Micro Finite Element models of the vertebral body: Validation of local displacement predictions

Computational models can be used to estimate the mechanical properties of bones under certain loading conditions. However, even if they are based on high-resolution micro-computed tomography (microCT) scans which provide information about the bone density and micro architecture, they need to be validated against accurate and well controlled experiments in the laboratory.
In this study we used a combination of high-resolution imaging, state of the art experimental testing and complex image processing techniques to understand how computational models predict the local displacements and strains of porcine vertebral bodies tested in compression. This study shows for the first time that the models can predict quantitatively the local displacements and qualitatively the strain distribution within the vertebral body, independently from the considered bone types. Work still needs to be done to predict the stiffness and strength of the bone without tuning the input parameters.