Data-Driven Computational Simulation in Bone Mechanics

Ann Biomed Eng. 2021 Jan;49(1):407-419. doi: 10.1007/s10439-020-02550-9. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


The data-driven approach was formally introduced in the field of computational mechanics just a few years ago, but it has gained increasing interest and application as disruptive technology in many other fields of physics and engineering. Although the fundamental bases of the method have been already settled, there are still many challenges to solve, which are often inherently linked to the problem at hand. In this paper, the data-driven methodology is applied to a particular problem in tissue biomechanics, a context where this approach is particularly suitable due to the difficulty in establishing accurate and general constitutive models, due to the intrinsic intra and inter-individual variability of the microstructure and associated mechanical properties of biological tissues. The problem addressed here corresponds to the characterization and mechanical simulation of a piece of cortical bone tissue. Cortical horse bone tissue was mechanically tested using a biaxial machine. The displacement field was obtained by means of digital image correlation and then transformed into strains by approximating the displacement derivatives in the bone virtual geometric image. These results, together with the approximated stress state, assumed as uniform in the small pieces tested, were used as input in the flowchart of the data-driven methodology to solve several numerical examples, which were compared with the corresponding classical model-based fitted solution. From these results, we conclude that the data-driven methodology is a useful tool to directly simulate problems of biomechanical interest without the imposition (model-free) of complex spatial and individually-varying constitutive laws. The presented data-driven approach recovers the natural spatial variation of the solution, resulting from the complex structure of bone tissue, i.e. heterogeneity, microstructural hierarchy and multifactorial architecture, making it possible to add the intrinsic stochasticity of biological tissues into the data set and into the numerical approach.

Keywords: Computational biomechanics; Data-driven approach; Experimental bone tissue mechanics; Numerical simulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cortical Bone / physiology*
  • Data Science
  • Femur / physiology*
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Horses
  • Models, Biological
  • Stress, Mechanical