Finite element (FE) models of long bones are widely used to analyze implant designs. Experimental validation has been used to examine the accuracy of FE models of cadaveric femurs; however, although convergence tests have been carried out, no FE models of an intact and implanted human cadaveric tibia have been validated using a range of experimental loading conditions. The aim of the current study was to create FE models of a human cadaveric tibia, both intact and implanted with a unicompartmental knee replacement, and to validate the models against results obtained from a comprehensive set of experiments. Seventeen strain rosettes were attached to a human cadaveric tibia. Surface strains and displacements were measured under 17 loading conditions, which consisted of axial, torsional, and bending loads. The tibia was tested both before and after implantation of the knee replacement. FE models were created based on computed tomography (CT) scans of the cadaveric tibia. The models consisted of ten-node tetrahedral elements and used 600 material properties derived from the CT scans. The experiments were simulated on the models and the results compared to experimental results. Experimental strain measurements were highly repeatable and the measured stiffnesses compared well to published results. For the intact tibia under axial loading, the regression line through a plot of strains predicted by the FE model versus experimentally measured strains had a slope of 1.15, an intercept of 5.5 microstrain, and an R² value of 0.98. For the implanted tibia, the comparable regression line had a slope of 1.25, an intercept of 12.3 microstrain, and an R² value of 0.97. The root mean square errors were 6.0% and 8.8% for the intact and implanted models under axial loads, respectively. The model produced by the current study provides a tool for simulating mechanical test conditions on a human tibia. This has considerable value in reducing the costs of physical testing by pre-selecting the most appropriate test conditions or most favorable prosthetic designs for final mechanical testing. It can also be used to gain insight into the results of physical testing, by allowing the prediction of those variables difficult or impossible to measure directly.
human tibia bone; experimental validation; validated FE model of implanted tibia; finite element analysis; tibial metaphysis; Oxford knee