Bone is a living tissue, which undergoes continuous renewal to repair local defects. Two separate processes, adaptation and remodeling, are involved when a defect appears. The defect produces stress concentrations that provoke regional adaptation, and is gradually repaired, first by resorption and then by deposition of new bone. Using a mathematical formulation of the adaptation mechanism in trabeculae of cancellous bone, we hypothesize that in some cases, where a microcrack is small enough relative to the dimensions of the trabecula, the adaptation response of the whole trabecula may be sufficient to regain homeostatic mechanical conditions (with no need for a remodeling process). The simulation results showed that for trabeculae with nominal length of 900 µm and nominal thickness of 80–800 µm, a microcrack with minimal length of 48 µm and minimal depth of 13% of the trabecula’s thickness was required to initiate a remodeling process. A longer (100 µm) but shallower (depth of 7% of the trabecula’s thickness) crack also triggered remodeling. These computational results support our hypothesis that when a microcrack small enough relative to the dimensions of the trabecula occurs, adaptation of the whole trabecula may be sufficient to regain homeostatic mechanical conditions with no need for a local remodeling process.
The authors are with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.