Nonlinear micro finite element models based on digital volume correlation measurements predict early microdamage in newly formed bone

Marta Peña Fernández, Sebastian J. Sasso, Samuel Mcphee, Cameron Black, Janos Kanczler, Gianluca Tozzi, Uwe Wolfram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Bone regeneration in critical-sized defects is a clinical challenge, with biomaterials under constant development aiming at enhancing the natural bone healing process. The delivery of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) in appropriate carriers represents a promising strategy for bone defect treatment but optimisation of the spatial-temporal release is still needed for the regeneration of bone with biological, structural, and mechanical properties comparable to the native tissue. Nonlinear micro finite element (μFE) models can address some of these challenges by providing a tool able to predict the biomechanical strength and microdamage onset in newly formed bone when subjected to physiological or supraphysiological loads. Yet, these models need to be validated against experimental data. In this study, experimental local displacements in newly formed bone induced by osteoinductive biomaterials subjected to in situ X-ray computed tomography compression in the apparent elastic regime and measured using digital volume correlation (DVC) were used to validate μFE models. Displacement predictions from homogeneous linear μFE models were highly correlated to DVC-measured local displacements, while tissue heterogeneity capturing mineralisation differences showed negligible effects. Nonlinear μFE models improved the correlation and showed that tissue microdamage occurs at low apparent strains. Microdamage seemed to occur next to large cavities or in biomaterial-induced thin trabeculae, independent of the mineralisation. While localisation of plastic strain accumulation was similar, the amount of damage accumulated in these locations was slightly higher when including material heterogeneity. These results demonstrate the ability of the nonlinear μFE model to capture local microdamage in newly formed bone tissue and can be exploited to improve the current understanding of healing bone and mechanical competence. This will ultimately aid the development of BMPs delivery systems for bone defect treatment able to regenerate bone with optimal biological, mechanical, and structural properties.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105303
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date1 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Biomaterials
  • Bone regeneration
  • Digital volume correlation
  • Micro finite element models
  • Microdamage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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