Complete volumetric decomposition of individual trabecular plates and rods and its morphological correlations with anisotropic elastic moduli in human trabecular bone

X. S. Liu, Paul Sajda, P. K. Saha, F. W. Wehrli, G. Bevill, T. M. Keaveny, X. E. Guo

Trabecular plates and rods are important microarchitectural features in determining mechanical properties of trabecular bone. A complete volumetric decomposition of individual trabecular plates and rods was used to assess the orientation and morphology of 71 human trabecular bone samples. The ITS-based morphological analyses better characterize microarchitecture and help predict anisotropic mechanical properties of trabecular bone.

Introduction: Standard morphological analyses of trabecular architecture lack explicit segmentations of individual trabecular plates and rods. In this study, a complete volumetric decomposition technique was developed to segment trabecular bone microstructure into individual plates and rods. Contributions of trabecular type-associated morphological parameters to the anisotropic elastic moduli of trabecular bone were studied.

Materials and Methods: Seventy-one human trabecular bone samples from the femoral neck (FN), tibia, and vertebral body (VB) were imaged using μCT or serial milling. Complete volumetric decomposition was applied to segment trabecular bone microstructure into individual plates and rods. The orientation of each individual trabecula was determined, and the axial bone volume fractions (aBV/TV), axially aligned bone volume fraction along each orthotropic axis, were correlated with the elastic moduli. The microstructural type-associated morphological parameters were derived and compared with standard morphological parameters. Their contributions to the anisotropic elastic moduli, calculated by finite element analysis (FEA), were evaluated and compared.

Results: The distribution of trabecular orientation suggested that longitudinal plates and transverse rods dominate at all three anatomic sites. aBV/TV along each axis, in general, showed a better correlation with the axial elastic modulus (r2 = 0.95∼0.99) compared with BV/TV (r2 = 0.93∼0.94). The plate-associated morphological parameters generally showed higher correlations with the corresponding standard morphological parameters than the rod-associated parameters. Multiple linear regression models of six elastic moduli with individual trabeculae segmentation (ITS)-based morphological parameters (adjusted r2 = 0.95∼0.98) performed equally well as those with standard morphological parameters (adjusted r2 = 0.94∼0.97) but revealed specific contributions from individual trabecular plates or rods.

Conclusions: The ITS-based morphological analyses provide a better characterization of the morphology and trabecular orientation of trabecular bone. The axial loading of trabecular bone is mainly sustained by the axially aligned trabecular bone volume. Results suggest that trabecular plates dominate the overall elastic properties of trabecular bone.

Accepted 1 October 2007
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