Properties of PMMA end cap holders affect FE stiffness predictions of vertebral specimens

Bruno Agostinho Hernandez, Richie Gill, Sabina Gheduzzi

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Bone cement is often used, in experimental biomechanics, as a potting agent for vertebral bodies (VB). As a consequence, it is usually included in finite element (FE) models to improve accuracy in boundary condition settings. However, bone cement material properties are typically assigned to these models based on literature data obtained from specimens created under conditions which often differ from those employed for cement end caps. These discrepancies can result in solids with different material properties from those reported. Therefore, this study aimed to analyse the effect of assigning different mechanical properties to bone cement in FE vertebral models. A porcine C2 vertebral body was potted in bone cement end caps, µCT scanned, and tested in compression. DIC was performed on the anterior surface of the specimen to monitor the displacement. Specimen stiffness was calculated from the load-displacement output of the materials testing machine and from the machine load output and average displacement measured by DIC. Fifteen bone cement cylinders with dimensions similar to the cement end caps were produced and subjected to the same compression protocol as the vertebral specimen and average stiffness and Young’ moduli were estimated. Two geometrically identical vertebral body FE models were created from the µCT images, the only difference residing in the values assigned to bone cement material properties: in one model these were obtained from the literature and in the other from the cylindrical cement samples previously tested. The average Young’s modulus of the bone cement cylindrical specimens was 1177±3 MPa, considerably lower than the values reported in the literature. With this value, the FE model predicted a vertebral specimen stiffness 3% lower than that measured experimentally, while when using the value most commonly reported in similar studies, specimen stiffness was overestimated by 150%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date13 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


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