Characterisation of time-dependent mechanical behaviour of trabecular bone and its constituents
Trabecular bone is a porous composite material which consists of a mineral phase (mainly hydroxyapatite), organic phase (mostly type I collagen) and water assembled into a complex, hierarchical structure. In biomechanical modelling, its mechanical response to loads is generally assumed to be instantaneous, i.e. it is treated as a time-independent material. It is, however, recognised that the response of trabecular bone to loads is time-dependent. Study of this time-dependent behaviour is important in several contexts such as: to understand energy dissipation ability of bone; to understand the age-related non-traumatic fractures; to predict implant loosening due to cyclic loading; to understand progressive vertebral deformity; and for pre-clinical evaluation of total joint replacement. To investigate time-dependent behaviour, bovine trabecular bone samples were subjected to compressive loading, creep, unloading and recovery at multiple load levels (corresponding to apparent strain of 2,000-25,000 με). The results show that: the time-dependent behaviour of trabecular bone comprises of both recoverable and irrecoverable strains; the strain response is nonlinearly related to applied load levels; and the response is associated with bone volume fraction. It was found that bone with low porosity demonstrates elastic stiffening followed by elastic softening, while elastic softening is demonstrated by porous bone at relatively low loads. Linear, nonlinear viscoelastic and nonlinear viscoelastic-viscoplastic constitutive models were developed to predict trabecular bone’s time-dependent behaviour. Nonlinear viscoelastic constitutive model was found to predict the recovery behaviour well, while nonlinear viscoelastic-viscoplastic model predicts the full creep-recovery behaviour reasonably well. Depending on the requirements all these models can be used to incorporate time-dependent behaviour in finite element models. To evaluate the contribution of the key constituents of trabecular bone and its microstructure, tests were conducted on demineralised and deproteinised samples. Reversed cyclic loading experiments (tension to compression) were conducted on demineralised trabecular bone samples. It was found that demineralised bone exhibits asymmetric mechanical response - elastic stiffening in tension and softening in compression. This tension to compression transition was found to be smooth. Tensile multiple-load-creep-unload-recovery experiments on demineralised trabecular samples show irrecoverable strain (or residual strain) even at the low stress levels. Demineralised trabecular bone samples demonstrate elastic stiffening with increasing load levels in tension, and their time-dependent behaviour is nonlinear with respect to applied loads . Nonlinear viscoelastic constitutive model was developed which can predict its recovery behaviour well. Experiments on deproteinised samples showed that their modulus and strength are reasonably well related to bone volume fraction. The study considers an application of time-dependent behaviour of trabecular bone. Time-dependent properties are assigned to trabecular bone in a bone-screw system, in which the screw is subjected to cyclic loading. It is found that separation between bone and the screw at the interface can increase with increasing number of cycles which can accentuate loosening. The relative larger deformation occurs when this system to be loaded at the higher loading frequency. The deformation at the bone-screw interface is related to trabecular bone’s bone volume fraction; screws in a more porous bone are at a higher risk of loosening.