Multiscale investigation of the functional properties of the human femur

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The mechanical strength of human bones has often been investigated in the past. Bone failure is related to musculoskeletal loading, tissue properties, bone metabolism, etc. This is intrinsically a multiscale problem. However, organ-level performance in most cases is investigated as a separate problem, incorporating only part (if any) of the information available at a higher scale (body level) or at a lower one (tissue level, cell level). A multiscale approach is proposed, where models available at different levels are integrated. A middle-out strategy is taken: the main model to be investigated is at the organ level. The organ-level model incorporates as an input the outputs from the body-level (musculoskeletal loads), tissue-level (constitutive equations) and cell-level models (bone remodelling). In this paper, this approach is exemplified by a clinically relevant application: fractures of the proximal femur. We report how a finite-element model of the femur (organ level) becomes part of a multiscale model. A significant effort is related to model validation: a number of experiments were designed to quantify the model's sensitivity and accuracy. When possible, the clinical accuracy and the clinical impact of a model should be assessed. Whereas a large amount of information is available at all scales, only organ-level models are really mature in this perspective. More work is needed in the future to integrate all levels fully, while following a sound scientific method to assess the relevance and validity of such an integrated model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3319-3341
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1879
Publication statusPublished - Sep 28 2008


  • Experimental validation
  • Functional competence
  • Human femur
  • Skeletal biomechanics
  • Subject-specific multiscale modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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