Clinical Mechanics

The clinical mechanics group studies the affect of both the morphology and mechanical properties of individual trabeculae on whole bone properties. This is accomplished through the use of cutting-edge imaging technologies and advanced software to study microstructural changes in bone as well as customized mechanical loading devices that allow mechanical properties to be derived at multiple scales. A centerpiece of our clinical mechanics imaging projects is the use of a novel, BBL-developed software called Individual Trabeculae Segmentation (ITS) , which enables images of trabecular bone to be accurately and rapidly decomposed into plates and rods and unique trabecuale parameters, such as thickness, orientation, and number, to be directly measured. Using all of these techniques, the clinical mechanics group can detect subtle changes in bone microarchitecture as potential markers of pathological bone conditions and relate these changes to changes in bone mechanical properties that can lead to, for example, increased fracture risk.

It is widely believed the detailed microstructure of trabecular bone such as the bone volume fraction (the ratio of volume of bone tissue to the overall bone volume), trabecular orientation and connectivity (the extent of trabecular connections) is important in governing the mechanical properties and failure of trabecular bone. However, it is not clear the relative contribution of trabecular bone micro-architecture such as trabecular connectivity, trabecular bone type (rod vs. plate), to trabecular bone strength, in addition to bone volume fraction.

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