QCT-based computational bone strength assessment updated with MRI-derived ‘hidden’ microporosity

Samuel McPhee, Lucy E. Kershaw, Carola R. Daniel, Marta Peña Fernández, Eugenio Cillán-García, Sarah E. Taylor, Uwe Wolfram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Microdamage accumulated through sustained periods of cyclic loading or single overloading events contributes to bone fragility through a reduction in stiffness and strength. Monitoring microdamage in vivo remains unattainable by clinical imaging modalities. As such, there are no established computational methods for clinical fracture risk assessment that account for microdamage that exists in vivo at any specific timepoint. We propose a method that combines multiple clinical imaging modalities to identify an indicative surrogate, which we term ‘hidden porosity,’ that incorporates pre-existing bone microdamage in vivo. To do so, we use the third metacarpal bone of the equine athlete as an exemplary model for fatigue induced microdamage, which coalesces in the subchondral bone. N = 10 metacarpals were scanned by clinical quantitative computed tomography (QCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We used a patch-based similarity method to quantify the signal intensity of a fluid sensitive MRI sequence in bone regions where microdamage coalesces. The method generated MRI-derived pseudoCT images which were then used to determine a pre-existing damage (Dpex) variable to quantify the proposed surrogate and which we incorporate into a nonlinear constitutive model for bone tissue. The minimum, median, and maximum detected Dpex of 0.059, 0.209, and 0.353 reduced material stiffness by 5.9%, 20.9%, and 35.3% as well as yield stress by 5.9%, 20.3%, and 35.3%. Limb-specific voxel-based finite element meshes were equipped with the updated material model. Lateral and medial condyles of each metacarpal were loaded to simulate physiological joint loading during gallop. The degree of detected Dpex correlated with a relative reduction in both condylar stiffness (p = 0.001, R2 > 0.74) and strength (p < 0.001, R2 > 0.80). Our results illustrate the complementary value of looking beyond clinical CT, which neglects the inclusion of microdamage due to partial volume effects. As we use clinically available imaging techniques, our results may aid research beyond the equine model on fracture risk assessment in human diseases such as osteoarthritis, bone cancer, or osteoporosis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106094
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date28 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Finite element model
  • Fracture risk
  • MRI
  • Microdamage
  • QCT
  • Strength
  • Subchondral bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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