As a dedicated experimentalist, John Currey praised the high potential of finite element (FE) analysis but also recognized its critical limitations. The application of the FE methodology to bone tissue is reviewed in the light of his enthusiastic and colorful statements. In the past decades, FE analysis contributed substantially to the understanding of structure-function properties in the hierarchical organization of bone and to the simulation of bone adaptation. The systematic experimental validation of FE analysis of bone strength in anatomical locations at risk of fracture led to its application in clinical studies to evaluate efficacy of antiresorptive or anabolic treatment of bone fragility. Beyond the successful analyses of healthy or osteoporotic bone, FE analysis becomes increasingly involved in the investigation of other fragility-related bone diseases. The case of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is exposed, the multiscale alterations of the bone tissue and the effect of treatment summarized. A few FE analyses attempting to answer open questions in OI are then reported. An original study is finally presented that explored the structural properties of the Brtl/+ murine model of OI type IV subjected to sclerostin neutralizing antibody treatment using microFE analysis. The use of identical material properties in the four-point bending FE simulations of the femora reproduced not only the experimental values but also the statistical comparisons examining the effect of disease and treatment. Further efforts are needed to build upon the extraordinary legacy of John Currey and clarify the impact of different bone diseases on the hierarchical mechanical properties of bone.
Keywords: Bone strength; Drug treatment; Finite element analysis; John Currey; Osteogenesis imperfecta; Sclerostin neutralizing antibody.
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