Many mechanical properties of cortical bone are largely governed by the underlying microarchitecture; however, the influence of microarchitecture on the fatigue life of bone is poorly understood. Furthermore, imaging-based studies investigating intracortical microarchitecture may expose bone samples to large doses of radiation that may compromise fatigue resistance. The purpose of this pilot study was to 1) investigate the relationship between intracortical microarchitecture and the fatigue life of human bone in compression and 2) examine the effects of synchrotron irradiation on fatigue life measurements. Cortical samples were prepared from the femoral and tibial shafts of three cadaveric donors. A subset of samples was imaged using synchrotron X-ray microCT to quantify microarchitecture, including porosity, canal diameter, lacunar density, lacunar volume, and lacunar orientation. A second group of control samples was not imaged and used only for mechanical testing. Fatigue life was quantified by cyclically loading both groups in zero-compression until failure. Increased porosity and larger canal diameter were both logarithmically related to a shorter fatigue life, whereas lacunar density demonstrated a positive linear relationship with fatigue life (r² = 45–73%, depending on measure). Irradiation from microCT scanning reduced fatigue life measurements by 91%, but relationships with microarchitecture measurements remained. Additional research is needed to support the findings of this pilot study and fully establish the relationship between intracortical microarchitecture and the compressive fatigue life of bone.
Keywords: Synchrotron radiation imaging; Mechanical fatigue; Irradiation; Porosity; Canal diameter; Lacunar density