Computational modeling of bone density profiles in response to gait: a subject-specific approach

  • Henry Pang
  • Abhishek P. Shiwalkar
  • Chris M. Madormo
  • Rebecca E. Taylor
  • Thomas P. Andriacchi
  • Ellen KuhlEmail author
Original Paper


The goal of this study is to explore the potential of computational growth models to predict bone density profiles in the proximal tibia in response to gait-induced loading. From a modeling point of view, we design a finite element-based computational algorithm using the theory of open system thermodynamics. In this algorithm, the biological problem, the balance of mass, is solved locally on the integration point level, while the mechanical problem, the balance of linear momentum, is solved globally on the node point level. Specifically, the local bone mineral density is treated as an internal variable, which is allowed to change in response to mechanical loading. From an experimental point of view, we perform a subject-specific gait analysis to identify the relevant forces during walking using an inverse dynamics approach. These forces are directly applied as loads in the finite element simulation. To validate the model, we take a Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry scan of the subject’s right knee from which we create a geometric model of the proximal tibia. For qualitative validation, we compare the computationally predicted density profiles to the bone mineral density extracted from this scan. For quantitative validation, we adopt the region of interest method and determine the density values at fourteen discrete locations using standard and custom-designed image analysis tools. Qualitatively, our two- and three-dimensional density predictions are in excellent agreement with the experimental measurements. Quantitatively, errors are less than 3% for the two-dimensional analysis and less than 10% for the three-dimensional analysis. The proposed approach has the potential to ultimately improve the long-term success of possible treatment options for chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis on a patient-specific basis by accurately addressing the complex interactions between ambulatory loads and tissue changes.


Growth Open system thermodynamics Density Bone Finite elements Gait analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Pang
    • 1
  • Abhishek P. Shiwalkar
    • 1
  • Chris M. Madormo
    • 1
  • Rebecca E. Taylor
    • 1
  • Thomas P. Andriacchi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ellen Kuhl
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of OrthopaedicsStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of BioengineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Department of Cardiothoracic SurgeryStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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