Assessment of the restoration of load-bearing function is the central goal in the study of fracture healing process. During the fracture healing, two critical aspects affect its analysis: (1) material properties of the callus components, and (2) the spatio-temporal architecture of the callus with respect to cartilage and new bone formation. In this study, an inverse problem methodology is used which takes into account both features and yields material property estimates that can analyze the healing changes. Six stabilized fractured mouse tibias are obtained at two time points during the most active phase of the healing process, respectively 10 days (n=3), and 14 days (n=3) after fracture. Under the same displacement conditions, the inverse procedure estimations of the callus material properties are generated and compared to other fracture healing metrics. The FEA estimated property is the only metric shown to be statistically significant (p=0.0194) in detecting the changes in the stiffness that occur during the healing time points. In addition, simulation studies regarding sensitivity to initial guess and noise are presented; as well as the influence of callus architecture on the FEA estimated material property metric. The finite element model inverse analysis developed can be used to determine the effects of genetics or therapeutic manipulations on fracture healing in rodents.
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