Finite element analysis predicts experimental failure patterns in vertebral bodies loaded via intervertebral discs up to large deformation

Clouthier, Allison Loretta; Seyed Hosseini, Hadi; Maquer, Ghislain Bernard; Zysset, Philippe (2015). Finite element analysis predicts experimental failure patterns in vertebral bodies loaded via intervertebral discs up to large deformation. Medical engineering & physics, 37(6), pp. 599-604. Elsevier 10.1016/j.medengphy.2015.03.007

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Vertebral compression fracture is a common medical problem in osteoporotic individuals. The quantitative computed tomography (QCT)-based finite element (FE) method may be used to predict vertebral strength in vivo, but needs to be validated with experimental tests. The aim of this study was to validate a nonlinear anatomy specific QCT-based FE model by using a novel testing setup. Thirty-seven human thoracolumbar vertebral bone slices were prepared by removing cortical endplates and posterior elements. The slices were scanned with QCT and the volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) was computed with the standard clinical approach. A novel experimental setup was designed to induce a realistic failure in the vertebral slices in vitro. Rotation of the loading plate was allowed by means of a ball joint. To minimize device compliance, the specimen deformation was measured directly on the loading plate with three sensors. A nonlinear FE model was generated from the calibrated QCT images and computed vertebral stiffness and strength were compared to those measured during the experiments. In agreement with clinical observations, most of the vertebrae underwent an anterior wedge-shape fracture. As expected, the FE method predicted both stiffness and strength better than vBMD (R2 improved from 0.27 to 0.49 and from 0.34 to 0.79, respectively). Despite the lack of fitting parameters, the linear regression of the FE prediction for strength was close to the 1:1 relation (slope and intercept close to one (0.86 kN) and to zero (0.72 kN), respectively). In conclusion, a nonlinear FE model was successfully validated through a novel experimental technique for generating wedge-shape fractures in human thoracolumbar vertebrae.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for Surgical Technology & Biomechanics ISTB [discontinued]

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Clouthier, Allison Loretta; Seyed Hosseini, Hadi; Maquer, Ghislain Bernard and Zysset, Philippe


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Ghislain Bernard Maquer

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2015 13:01

Last Modified:

01 Jul 2016 02:30

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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