Three-dimensional micro-level computational study of Wolff's law via trabecular bone remodeling in the human proximal femur using design space topology optimization
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The law of bone remodeling, commonly referred to as Wolff's Law, asserts that the internal trabecular bone adapts to external loadings, reorienting with the principal stress trajectories to maximize mechanical efficiency creating a naturally optimum structure. The goal of the current study was to utilize an advanced structural optimization algorithm, called design space optimization (DSO), to perform a micro-level three-dimensional finite element bone remodeling simulation on the human proximal femur and analyse the results to determine the validity of Wolff's hypothesis. DSO optimizes the layout of material by iteratively distributing it into the areas of highest loading, while simultaneously changing the design domain to increase computational efficiency. The result is a "fully stressed" structure with minimized compliance and increased stiffness. The large-scale computational simulation utilized a 175 μm mesh resolution and the routine daily loading activities of walking and stair climbing. The resulting anisotropic trabecular architecture was compared to both Wolff's trajectory hypothesis and natural femur samples from literature using a variety of visualization techniques, including radiography and computed tomography (CT). The results qualitatively revealed several anisotropic trabecular regions, that were comparable to the natural human femurs. Quantitatively, the various regional bone volume fractions from the computational results were consistent with quantitative CT analyses. The global strain energy proceeded to become more uniform during optimization; implying increased mechanical efficiency was achieved. The realistic simulated trabecular geometry suggests that the DSO method can accurately predict bone adaptation due to mechanical loading and that the proximal femur is an optimum structure as the Wolff hypothesized.
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