Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 795–805 | Cite as

A novel technique with reduced computed tomography exposure to predict vertebral compression fracture: a finite element study based on rat vertebrae

  • Giovanni F. Solitro
  • Florian Mainnemare
  • Farid AmiroucheEmail author
  • Ankit Mehta
Original Article


Vertebral compression fractures are a significant clinical issue with an annual incidence of approximately 750,000 cases in the USA alone. Mechanical properties of vertebrae are successfully evaluated through finite element (FE) models based on vertebrae CT. However, clinical drawbacks associated to radiation transmission encouraged to explore the possibility to use selected or reduced portions of the vertebra. The objective of our study was to develop a new procedure to predict vertebral compression fracture from sub-volumes. We reconstructed rat vertebras from micro-CT of thoracic and lumbar groups. Each vertebra was partitioned into three sub-volumes of different axial thickness. FE simulating compression tests were performed on each model to evaluate their failure load and stiffness. Using a power function, a high correlation was found for stiffness and strength. The sub-volume with three fifths thickness had a failure load of 180.7 ± 19.2 N for thoracic and of 209.5 ± 27.4 N for the lumbar vertebra. These values were not significantly different from the values found for the entire vertebra (p > 0.05). Based on our findings, failure loads and stiffnesses obtained with reduced CT scans can be successfully used to predict full vertebral failure. This sub-region analysis and power relationship suggests that one can limit radiation exposure to patients when bone characterization is needed.

Graphical abstract

Estimated mechanical properties in relation to the extent of the computed tomography reconstruction


Fractures Compression Compressive strength Thoracic vertebrae Lumbar vertebrae Rats 


Funding information

The work was partially supported by the Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation. F. Mainnemare’s abroad research was fully funded by Fren ch Ecole Normale Supérieur Paris-Saclay.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OrthopaedicsUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryLouisiana State University Health Science Center of ShreveportShreveportUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mechanical Engineering, ENS CachanUniversité Paris-SaclayCachanFrance
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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