The effect of cortex thickness on intact femur biomechanics: A comparison of finite element analysis with synthetic femurs Academic Article uri icon

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  • Biomechanical studies on femur fracture fixation with orthopaedic implants are numerous in the literature. However, few studies have compared the mechanical stability of these repair constructs in osteoporotic versus normal bone. The present aim was to examine how changes in cortical wall thickness of intact femurs affect biomechanical characteristics. A three-dimensional, linear, isotropic finite element (FE) model of an intact femur was developed in order to predict the effect of bicortical wall thickness, t, relative to the femur's mid-diaphyseal outer diameter, D, over a cortex thickness ratio range of 0 < or = t/D < or = 1. The FE model was subjected to loads to obtain axial, lateral, and torsional stiffness. Ten commercially available synthetic femurs were then used to mimic 'osteoporotic' bone with t/D = 0.33, while ten synthetic left femurs were used to simulate 'normal' bone with t/D = 0.66. Axial, lateral, and torsional stiffness were measured for all femurs. There was excellent agreement between FE analysis and experimental stiffness data for all loading modes with an aggregate average percentage difference of 8 per cent. The FE results for mechanical stiffness versus cortical thickness ratio (0 < or = t/D < or = 1) demonstrated exponential trends with the following stiffness ranges: axial stiffness (0 to 2343 N/mm), lateral stiffness (0 to 62 N/mm), and torsional stiffness (0 to 198 N/mm). This is the first study to characterize mechanical stiffness over a wide range of cortical thickness values. These results may have some clinical implications with respect to appropriately differentiating between older and younger human long bones from a mechanical standpoint.


  • Zdero, R
  • Bougherara, H
  • Dubov, A
  • Shah, S
  • Zalzal, Paul
  • Mahfud, A
  • Schemitsch, EH

publication date

  • July 2010