Fractographic Examination of Racing Greyhound Central (Navicular) Tarsal Bone Failure Surfaces Using Scanning Electron Microscopy
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The greyhound is a fatigue fracture model of a short distance running athlete. Greyhounds have a high incidence of central (navicular) tarsal bone (CTB) fractures, which are not associated with overt trauma. We wished to determine whether these fractures occur because of accumulation of fatigue microdamage. We hypothesized that bone from racing dogs would show site-specific microdamage accumulation, causing predisposition to structural failure. We performed a fractographic examination of failure surfaces from fractured bones using scanning electron microscopy and assessed microcracking observed at the failure surface using a visual analog scale. Branching arrays of microcracks were seen in failure surfaces of CTB and adjacent tarsal bones, suggestive of compressive fatigue failure. Branching arrays of microcracks were particularly prevalent in remodeled trabecular bone that had become compact. CTB fractures showed increased microdamage when compared with other in vivo fractures (adjacent tarsal bone and long bone fractures), and ex vivo tarsal fractures induced by monotonic loading (P < 0.02). It was concluded that greyhound racing and training often results in CTB structural failure, because of accumulation and coalescence of branching arrays of fatigue microcracks, the formation of which appears to be predisposed to adapted bone.
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