A theoretical model for the simulation of microdamage, repair and adaptation in compact bone.

This paper describes a new theoretical approach to bone microdamage, in which a population of cracks is explicitly modelled. A given sample of bone is assumed to contain a certain number of cracks, whose growth characteristics are described with an equation containing stochastic variables to create statistical differences from one crack to another. This type of model allows us to predict a wide variety of data. The present paper illustrates the different types of prediction which can be made, including: (i) standard damage parameters such as the number and length of cracks and the reduction in stiffness; (ii) fatigue test data such as the number of cycles to failure as a function of stress level, including scatter; (iii) effects due to the living system, including repair, remodelling and adaptation. A useful feature of the model is our ability to examine the statistics of the crack population in detail to find, for example, the number of cracks which are potentially dangerous as opposed to those which are dormant, and to investigate the reasons for increased crack numbers in the bones of older people. The potential also exists to use the model to investigate different theories of bone remodelling and adaptation.