Understanding the relationship between interfragmentary movement and callus growth in fracture healing: A novel computational approach

Wilson, Cameron John, Loechel, Nicole, Schuetz, Michael, & Epari, Devakara R. (2015) Understanding the relationship between interfragmentary movement and callus growth in fracture healing: A novel computational approach. In Australasian Orthopaedic Trauma Society Annual Scientific Meeting, 12-14 June 2015, Noosa, Qld. (Unpublished)


Introduction & Aims

Optimising fracture treatments requires a sound understanding of relationships between stability, callus development and healing outcomes. This has been the goal of computational modelling, but discrepancies remain between simulations and experimental results. We compared healing patterns vs fixation stiffness between a novel computational callus growth model and corresponding experimental data.


We hypothesised that callus growth is stimulated by diffusible signals, whose production is in turn regulated by mechanical conditions at the fracture site. We proposed that introducing this scheme into computational models would better replicate the observed tissue patterns and the inverse relationship between callus size and fixation stiffness.


Finite element models of bone healing under stiff and flexible fixation were constructed, based on the parameters of a parallel rat femoral osteotomy study. An iterative procedure was implemented, to simulate the development of callus and its mechanical regulation. Tissue changes were regulated according to published mechano-biological criteria. Predictions of healing patterns were compared between standard models, with a pre-defined domain for callus development, and a novel approach, in which periosteal callus growth is driven by a diffusible signal. Production of this signal was driven by local mechanical conditions. Finally, each model’s predictions were compared to the corresponding histological data.


Models in which healing progressed within a prescribed callus domain predicted that greater interfragmentary movements would displace early periosteal bone formation further from the fracture. This results from artificially large distortional strains predicted near the fracture edge. While experiments showed increased hard callus size under flexible fixation, this was not reflected in the standard models. Allowing the callus to grow from a thin soft tissue layer, in response to a mechanically stimulated diffusible signal, results in a callus shape and tissue distribution closer to those observed histologically. Importantly, the callus volume increased with increasing interfragmentary movement.


A novel method to incorporate callus growth into computational models of fracture healing allowed us to successfully capture the relationship between callus size and fixation stability observed in our rat experiments. This approach expands our toolkit for understanding the influence of different fixation strategies on healing outcomes.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 85012
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Bone, Computational modelling, Finite element analysis, Fracture callus, Fracture healing, Mechanobiology
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES (010000) > APPLIED MATHEMATICS (010200) > Biological Mathematics (010202)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING (090300) > Biomechanical Engineering (090302)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Orthopaedics (110314)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 28 Jun 2015 23:34
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2017 22:07

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