Finite Element Analysis of Vertebral Body Mechanics With a Nonlinear Microstructural Model for the Trabecular Core

[+] Author and Article Information
D. W. Overaker, N. A. Langrana, A. M. Cuitiño

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854

J Biomech Eng 121(5), 542-550 (Oct 01, 1999) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2835085 History: Received December 01, 1998; Revised May 24, 1999; Online January 23, 2008


In this study, a finite element model of a vertebral body was used to study the load-bearing role of the two components (shell and core) under compression. The model of the vertebral body has the characteristic kidney shape transverse cross section with concave lateral surfaces and flat superior and inferior surfaces. A nonlinear unit cell based foam model was used for the trabecular core, where nonlinearity was introduced as coupled elastoplastic beam behavior of individual trabeculae. The advantage of the foam model is that architecture and material properties are separated, thus facilitating studies of the effects of architecture on the apparent behavior. Age-related changes in the trabecular architecture were considered in order to address the effects of osteoporosis on the load-sharing behavior. Stiffness changes with age (architecture and porosity changes) for the trabecular bone model were shown to follow trends in published experimental results. Elastic analyses showed that the relative contribution of the shell to the load-bearing ability of the vertebra decreases with increasing age and lateral wall curvature. Elasto-plastic (nonlinear) analyses showed that failure regions were concentrated in the upper posterior region of the vertebra in both the shell and core components. The ultimate load of the vertebral body model varied from 2800 N to 5600 N, depending on age (architecture and porosity of the trabecular core) and shell thickness. The model predictions lie within the range of experimental results. The results provide an understanding of the relative role of the core and shell in vertebral body mechanics and shed light on the yield and post-yield behavior of the vertebral body.

Copyright © 1999 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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