Numerical modeling of long bone adaptation due to mechanical loading: Correlation with experiments

Natarajan Chennimalai Kumar, Jonathan A. Dantzig, Iwona M. Jasiuk, Alex G. Robling, Charles H. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of external bone adaptation in cortical bone is modeled mathematically using finite element (FE) stress analysis coupled with an evolution model, in which adaptation response is triggered by mechanical stimulus represented by strain energy density. The model is applied to experiments in which a rat ulna is subjected to cyclic loading, and the results demonstrate the ability of the model to predict the bone adaptation response. The FE mesh is generated from micro-computed tomography (μCT) images of the rat ulna, and the stress analysis is carried out using boundary and loading conditions on the rat ulna obtained from the experiments [Robling, A. G., F. M. Hinant, D. B. Burr, and C. H. Turner. J. Bone Miner. Res. 17:1545-1554, 2002]. The external adaptation process is implemented in the model by moving the surface nodes of the FE mesh based on an evolution law characterized by two parameters: one that captures the rate of the adaptation process (referred to as gain); and the other characterizing the threshold value of the mechanical stimulus required for adaptation (referred to as threshold-sensitivity). A parametric study is carried out to evaluate the effect of these two parameters on the adaptation response. We show, following comparison of results from the simulations to the experimental observations of Robling et al. (J. Bone Miner. Res. 17:1545-1554, 2002), that splitting the loading cycles into different number of bouts affects the threshold-sensitivity but not the rate of adaptation. We also show that the threshold-sensitivity parameter can quantify the mechanosensitivity of the osteocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-604
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Cortical bone adaptation
  • Evolution law
  • Finite element modeling
  • Loading bouts
  • Rat ulna

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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