Heterogeneity of material properties is an important potential contributor to bone fracture resistance because of its putative contribution to toughness, but establishing the contribution of heterogeneity to fracture risk is still in an incipient stage. Experimental studies have demonstrated changes in distributions of compositional and nanomechanical properties with fragility fracture history, disease, and pharmacologic treatment. Computational studies have demonstrated that models with heterogeneous material properties predict apparent stiffness moderately better than homogeneous models and show greater energy dissipation. Collectively, these results suggest that microscale material heterogeneity affects not only microscale mechanics but also structural performance at larger length scales.

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