Effect of amputation level on the stress transferred to the femur by an artificial limb directly attached to the bone

L Newcombe, M Dewar, G W Blunn, P Fromme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attachment of an artificial limb directly to the skeleton has a number of potential benefits and the technique has been implemented for several amputation sites. In this paper the transfer of stress from an external, transfemoral prosthesis to the femur during normal walking activity is investigated. The stress distribution in the femur and at the implant-bone interface is calculated using finite element analysis for the 3D geometry and inhomogeneous, anisotropic material properties obtained from a CT scan of a healthy femur. Attachment of the prosthetic leg at three different levels of amputation is considered. Stress concentrations are found at the distal end of the bone and adjacent to the implant tip and stress shielding is observed adjacent to the implant. It is found that the stress distribution in the femur distal to the epiphysis, where the femur geometry is close to cylindrical, can be predicted from a cylindrical finite element model, using the correct choice of bone diameter as measured from a radiograph. Proximal to the lesser trochanter the stress decreases as the femur geometry diverges significantly from a cylinder. The stress concentration at the distal, resected end of the bone is removed when a collared implant is employed. These findings form the basis for appropriate settings of an external fail-safe device to protect the bone from excessive stress in the event of an undue load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1744-53
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Engineering & Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Amputation
  • Artificial Limbs
  • Femur
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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