The high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) provides unprecedented visualization of bone microstructure and the basis for constructing patient-specific microfinite element (μFE) models. Based on HR-pQCT images, we have developed a plate-and-rod μFE (PR μFE) method for whole bone segments using individual trabecula segmentation (ITS) and an adaptive cortical meshing technique. In contrast to the conventional voxel approach, the complex microarchitecture of the trabecular compartment is simplified into shell and beam elements based on the trabecular plate-and-rod configuration. In comparison to voxel-based μFE models of μCT and measurements from mechanical testing, the computational and experimental gold standards, nonlinear analyses of stiffness and yield strength using the HR-pQCT-based PR μFE models demonstrated high correlation and accuracy. These results indicated that the combination of segmented trabecular plate-rod morphology and adjusted cortical mesh adequately captures mechanics of the whole bone segment. Meanwhile, the PR μFE modeling approach reduced model size by nearly 300-fold and shortened computation time for nonlinear analysis from days to within hours, permitting broader clinical application of HR-pQCT-based nonlinear μFE modeling. Furthermore, the presented approach was tested using a subset of radius and tibia HR-pQCT scans of patients with prior vertebral fracture in a previously published study. Results indicated that yield strength for radius and tibia whole bone segments predicted by the PR μFE model was effective in discriminating vertebral fracture subjects from nonfractured controls. In conclusion, the PR μFE model of HR-pQCT images accurately predicted mechanics for whole bone segments and can serve as a valuable clinical tool to evaluate musculoskeletal diseases.

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