Subject-specific finite element (FE) computer models of the proximal femur in hip replacement could potentially predict stress-shielding and subsequent bone loss in individual patients. Before such predictions can be made, it is important first to determine if between subject differences in stress-shielding are sensitive to poorly defined parameters such as the load and the bone material properties. In this study we investigate if subject-specific FE models provide consistent stress-shielding patterns in the bone, independent of the choice of the loading conditions and the bone density-modulus relationship used in the computer model. FE models of two right canine femurs with and without implants were constructed based on contiguous computed tomography (CT) scans so that subject-specific estimates of stress-shielding could be calculated. Four different loading conditions and two bone density-modulus relationships were tested. Stress-shielding was defined as the decrease of strain energy per gram bone mass in the femur with the implant in place relative to the intact femur.The analyses showed that for the four loading conditions and two bone density-modulus relationships the difference in stress-shielding between the two subjects was essentially constant (1% variation) when the same loading condition and density-modulus relationship was used for both subjects. The severity of stress-shielding within a subject was sensitive to these input parameters, varying up to 20% in specific regions with a change in loading conditions and up to 10% for a change in the assumed density-modulus relationship. We conclude that although the choice of input parameters can substantially affect stress-shielding in an individual, this choice had virtually no effect on the relative differences in femoral periprosthetic stress-shielding between individuals. Thus, while care should be taken in the interpretation of the absolute value of stress-shielding calculated with these type of models, subject-specific FE models may be useful for explaining the variation in bone adaptation responsiveness between different subjects in experimental or clinical studies.

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Journal of Biomechanics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Weinans, H., Sumner, D., Igloria, R., & Natarajan, R. (2000). Sensitivity of periprosthetic stress-shielding to load and the bone density-modulus relationship in subject-specific finite element models. Journal of Biomechanics, 33(7), 809–817. doi:10.1016/S0021-9290(00)00036-1