Micromechanical evaluation of cortical bone using in situ XCT indentation and digital volume correlation

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The overall mechanical behaviour of cortical bone is strongly dependant on its microstructure. X-ray computed tomography (XCT) has been widely used to identify the microstructural morphology of cortical tissue (i.e. pore network, Haversian and Volkmann’s canals). However, the connection between microstructure and mechanics of cortical bone during plastic deformation is unclear. Hence, the purpose of this study is to provide an in-depth evaluation of the interplay of plastic strain building up in relation to changes in the canal network for cortical bone tissue. In situ step-wise XCT indentation was used to introduce a localised load on the surface of the tissue and digital volume correlation (DVC) was employed to assess the three-dimensional (3D) full-field plastic strain distribution in proximity of the indent. It was observed that regions adjacent to the imprint were under tensile strain, whereas the volume underneath experienced compressive strain. Canal loss and disruption was detected in regions of higher compressive strains exceeding -20000 με and crack formation occurred in specimens where Haversian canals were running parallel to the indentation tip. The results of this study outline the relationship between the micromechanical and structural behaviour of cortical bone during plastic deformation, providing information on cortical tissue fracture pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104298
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date1 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Cortical bone
  • Digital volume correlation (DVC)
  • In situ mechanics
  • X-ray computed tomography (XCT)


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