Quantitative computed tomography (QCT)-based finite element (FE) models provide better predictions of vertebral strength compared to traditional methods currently used in clinical diagnosis [1]. In QCT-based FE models, the intra- and inter-specimen variations in trabecular anisotropy are often ignored, despite evidence that the biomechanical behavior of the vertebra depends on the architecture of the vertebral trabecular bone [2]. A realistic representation of the specimen-specific, trabecular anisotropy in the FE models of vertebrae would potentially improve predictions of vertebral failure. The overall goal of this study was to evaluate the importance of incorporating specimen-specific, trabecular anisotropy for QCT-based FE predictions of vertebral stiffness and deformation patterns. The major aims of this study were (a) to compare the QCT-based FE results obtained with a constant, anisotropic, material model (the “generic-anisotropic” model) for trabecular bone to those obtained with a specimen-specific, anisotropic, material model and (b) to study the influence of degree of anisotropy (DA) on the FE predictions of vertebral stiffness.

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