The mechanical properties of healthy and diseased bone tissue were extensively studied in mechanical tests. Most of this research was motivated by the immense costs of health care and social impacts due to osteoporosis in post-menopausal women and the aged. Osteoporosis results in bone loss and change of trabecular architecture, causing a decrease in bone strength. To address the problem of assessing local failure behavior of bone, we combined mechanical compression testing of trabecular bone samples with high-speed photography. In this exploratory study, we investigated healthy, osteoarthritic, and osteoporotic human vertebral trabecular bone compressed at high strain rates. Apparent strains were found to transfer into to a broad range of local strains. Strained trabeculae were seen to whiten with increasing strain. Comparison of whitened regions seen in high-speed photography sequences with scanning electron micrographs showed that the observed whitening was due to the formation of microcracks. From the results of a motion energy filter applied to the recorded movies, we saw that the whitened areas are, presumably, also areas of high deformation. In summary, high-speed photography allows the detection of microdamage in real time, leading toward a better understanding of the local processes involved in bone failure.
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