Effects of strain artefacts arising from a pre-defined callus domain in models of bone healing mechanobiology
Wilson, Cameron John, Schuetz, Michael, & Epari, Devakara R. (2015) Effects of strain artefacts arising from a pre-defined callus domain in models of bone healing mechanobiology. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 14(5), pp. 1129-1141.
Iterative computational models have been used to investigate the regulation of bone fracture healing by local mechanical conditions. Although their predictions replicate some mechanical responses and histological features, they do not typically reproduce the predominantly radial hard callus growth pattern observed in larger mammals. We hypothesised that this discrepancy results from an artefact of the models’ initial geometry. Using axisymmetric finite element models, we demonstrated that pre-defining a field of soft tissue in which callus may develop introduces high deviatoric strains in the periosteal region adjacent to the fracture. These bone-inhibiting strains are not present when the initial soft tissue is confined to a thin periosteal layer. As observed in previous healing models, tissue differentiation algorithms regulated by deviatoric strain predicted hard callus forming remotely and growing towards the fracture. While dilatational strain regulation allowed early bone formation closer to the fracture, hard callus still formed initially over a broad area, rather than expanding over time. Modelling callus growth from a thin periosteal layer successfully predicted the initiation of hard callus growth close to the fracture site. However, these models were still susceptible to elevated deviatoric strains in the soft tissues at the edge of the hard callus. Our study highlights the importance of the initial soft tissue geometry used for finite element models of fracture healing. If this cannot be defined accurately, alternative mechanisms for the prediction of early callus development should be investigated.
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