Technical Brief

Quantifying the Effects of Formalin Fixation on the Mechanical Properties of Cortical Bone Using Beam Theory and Optimization Methodology With Specimen-Specific Finite Element Models

[+] Author and Article Information
Guan-Jun Zhang, Jie Yang, Libo Cao

State Key Laboratory of Advanced Design and
Manufacturing for Vehicle Body,
Hunan University,
1st Lushan South Street,
Changsha 410082, China

Feng-Jiao Guan

College of Mechatronic Engineering and Automation,
National University of Defense Technology,
109 Deya Road,
Changsha 410073, China

Dan Chen

Department of Human Anatomy and Neurobiology,
School of Basic Medical Science,
Central South University,
172nd Tongzipo Road,
Changsha 410013, China

Na Li

Radiology Department,
Xiangya 3rd Hospital,
Central South University,
138 Tongzipo Road,
Changsha 410013, China

Haojie Mao

Department of Biomedical Engineering,
Bioengineering Center,
Wayne State University,
818 W. Hancock,
Detroit, MI 48201
e-mail: hmao@wayne.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received October 25, 2015; final manuscript received July 13, 2016; published online August 5, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Joel D. Stitzel.

J Biomech Eng 138(9), 094502 (Aug 05, 2016) (8 pages) Paper No: BIO-15-1531; doi: 10.1115/1.4034254 History: Received October 25, 2015; Revised July 13, 2016

The effects of formalin fixation on bone material properties remain debatable. In this study, we collected 36 fresh-frozen cuboid-shaped cortical specimens from five male bovine femurs and immersed half of the specimens into 4% formalin fixation liquid for 30 days. We then conducted three-point bending tests and used both beam theory method and an optimization method combined with specimen-specific finite element (FE) models to identify material parameters. Through the optimization FE method, the formalin-fixed bones showed a significantly lower Young's modulus (−12%) compared to the fresh-frozen specimens, while no difference was observed using the beam theory method. Meanwhile, both the optimization FE and beam theory methods revealed higher effective failure strains for formalin-fixed bones compared to fresh-frozen ones (52% higher through the optimization FE method and 84% higher through the beam theory method). Hence, we conclude that the formalin fixation has a significant effect on bovine cortical bones at small, elastic, as well as large, plastic deformations.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Flowchart to determine the optimal material parameters of cortical bovine bone specimens

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Fig. 2

Schematic drawing of specimen extraction, modified from Ref. [18]. LS, span length between two supports; W, specimen width; and T, specimen thickness.

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Fig. 3

Three-point bending test setup. (a) Schematic drawing for the locations of measurement—length (L1, L2, and L3), width (W1, W2, and W3), and thickness (T1, T2, and T3). (b) Three-point bending test. (c) Close-up view to show the support and impactor.

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Fig. 4

Finite element models with detailed loading and boundary conditions in finite element simulations. Note: only half of the finite element model is shown.

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Fig. 5

Comparison of experimental curves and simulated curves for fresh-frozen and formalin-fixed bones. Rectangle and triangle symbols indicate the experimental data collected from fresh-frozen and formalin-fixed specimens, respectively. Solid and dashed lines indicate the simulated data optimized for fresh-frozen and formalin-fixed specimens, respectively.




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