An evidence gap exists in fully understanding and reliably modeling the variations in elastic anisotropy that are observed at the millimeter scale in human cortical bone. The porosity (pore volume fraction) is known to account for a large part, but not all, of the elasticity variations. This effect may be modeled by a two-phase micromechanical model consisting of a homogeneous matrix pervaded by cylindrical pores. Although this model has been widely used, it lacks experimental validation. The aim of the present work is to revisit experimental data (elastic coefficients, porosity) previously obtained from 21 cortical bone specimens from the femoral mid-diaphysis of 10 donors and test the validity of the model by proposing a detailed discussion of its hypotheses. This includes investigating to what extent the experimental uncertainties, pore network modeling, and matrix elastic properties influence the model's predictions. The results support the validity of the two-phase model of cortical bone which assumes that the essential source of variations of elastic properties at the millimeter-scale is the volume fraction of vascular porosity. We propose that the bulk of the remaining discrepancies between predicted stiffness coefficients and experimental data (RMSE between 6% and 9%) is in part due to experimental errors and part due to small variations of the extravascular matrix properties. More significantly, although most of the models that have been proposed for cortical bone were based on several homogenization steps and a large number of variable parameters, we show that a model with a single parameter, namely the volume fraction of vascular porosity, is a suitable representation for cortical bone. The results could provide a guide to build specimen-specific cortical bone models. This will be of interest to analyze the structure-function relationship in bone and to design bone-mimicking materials.
Copyright © 2014 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.