Application of digital volume correlation (DVC) to study the efficacy of prophylactic augmentation

Valentina Danesi, Gianluca Tozzi, Renzo Soffiatti, Luca Cristofolini

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Prophylactic augmentation is meant to reinforce the vertebral body (VB), but in some cases it is suspected to actually weaken it. To elucidate the biomechanical efficacy of prophylactic augmentation, the full-field three-dimensional strain distributions were measured for the first time inside prophylactic-augmented vertebrae.

Twelve thoracic porcine vertebrae were assigned to three groups: 4 were augmented with bone cement for vertebroplasty (Mendec-Spine, Tecres), 4 were treated with another bone cement for vertebroplasty (Calcemex-Spine, Tecres) while the other 4 were tested untreated as a control. Destructive tests were carried out under axial compression, in a step-wise fashion (unloaded, 5%, 10% and 15% compression). At each loading step, μCT-images were acquired. The internal strain distribution was investigated by means of DVC analysis.

Some augmented specimens were stronger than the respective control, while others were weaker. In most of the specimens, the strain distribution in the elastic regime (5% compression) seemed to predict the location of the micro-damage initiation before it actually became identifiable (at 10% and 15% compression). The measured strain had the same order of magnitude for all groups. However, in the control vertebrae, the highest strain would unpredictably appear at any location inside the VB. Conversely, for both augmentation groups, the highest strains were measured in the regions adjacent to the injected cement mass, whereas the cement-interdigitated-bone was less strained. Localization of high strains and failure was consistent between specimens, but different between the two cement types: with Mendec-Spine failure the highest strains were mainly localized at mid-height and at the same level where the cement mass was localized; with Calcemex-Spine failure the highest strains were mainly cranial and caudal to the cement mass.

Both the micro-CT images, and the DVC strain analysis highlighted that:

1. The cement mass was less strained than any other regions in the vertebra. Failure never started inside the cement mass. This can be explained with the additional stiffening and reinforcement associated with the infiltration of the cement inside the trabecular bone.

2. The highest strains and failure were localized in the bone adjacent to the cement-bone interdigitated region. This can be explained by the strain concentration between the cement-interdigitated bone (stiffer and stronger), and the adjacent non-augmented trabecular bone

3. The strain maps in the elastic regime and the localization of failure was different in the augmented vertebrae, when compared to the natural controls. This suggests an alteration of the load sharing in the augmented structure where the load is mostly carried by the cement region.

4. The different localization of failure initiation between the two augmented groups could be explained by the different mechanical properties of the two cements.

This study has demonstrated the potential of DVC in measuring the internal strain and failure in prophylactic-augmented vertebrae. It has been shown that failure starts inside the augmented VB, next to the injected cement mass. This can help establishing better criteria (in terms of localization of the cement mass) in order to improve clinical protocols for vertebroplasty surgical procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-107
Number of pages1
JournalOrthopaedic Proceedings: A Supplement to The Bone and Joint Journal
Issue numberSUPP 1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2017


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