2D and 3D numerical models to evaluate trabecular bone damage

Federica Buccino, Chiara Colombo, Daniel Hernando Lozano Duarte, Luca Rinaudo, Fabio Massimo Ulivieri, Laura Maria Vergani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The comprehension of trabecular bone damage processes could be a crucial hint for understanding how bone damage starts and propagates. Currently, different approaches to bone damage identification could be followed. Clinical approaches start from dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) technique that can evaluate bone mineral density (BMD), an indirect indicator of fracture risk. DXA is, in fact, a two-dimensional technology, and BMD alone is not able to predict the effective risk of fractures. First attempts in overcoming this issue have been performed with finite element (FE) methods, combined with the use of three-dimensional high-resolution micro-computed tomographic images. The purpose of this work is to evaluate damage initiation and propagation in trabecular vertebral porcine samples using 2D linear-elastic FE models from DXA images and 3D linear FE models from micro-CT images. Results show that computed values of strains with 2D and 3D approaches (e.g., the minimum principal strain) are of the same order of magnitude. 2D DXA-based models still remain a powerful tool for a preliminary screening of trabecular regions that are prone to fracture, while from 3D micro-CT-based models, it is possible to reach details that permit the localization of the most strained trabecula. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139–2152
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 2D and 3D finite element models
  • Dual X-ray absorptiometry
  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Trabecular bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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