3D Imaging of Indentation Damage in Bone

Tristan Lowe, Egemen Avcu, Etienne Bousser, William Sellers, Philip Withers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bone is a complex material comprising high stiffness, but brittle, crystalline bio-apatite combined with compliant, but tough, collagen fibres. It can accommodate significant deformation, and the bone microstructure inhibits crack propagation such that micro-cracks can be quickly repaired. Catastrophic failure (bone fracture) is a major cause of morbidity, particularly in aging populations, either through a succession of small fractures or because a traumatic event is sufficiently large to overcome the individual crack blunting/shielding mechanisms. Indentation methods provide a convenient way of characterising the mechanical properties of bone. It is important to be able to visualise the interactions between the bone microstructure and the damage events in three dimensions (3D) to better understand the nature of the damage processes that occur in bone and the relevance of indentation tests in evaluating bone resilience and strength. For the first time, time-lapse laboratory X-ray computed tomography (CT) has been used to establish a time-evolving picture of bone deformation/plasticity and cracking. The sites of both crack initiation and termination as well as the interconnectivity of cracks and pores have been visualised and identified in 2D and 3D.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2533
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


  • aging
  • in situ
  • crack initiation and propagation
  • damage modes
  • Osteoporosis
  • osteogenesis imperfecta
  • porosity
  • bone matrix quality


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