Prediction of femoral head collapse in osteonecrosis

K. Y. Volokh, H. Yoshida, A. Leali, J. F. Fetto, E. Y.S. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The femoral head deteriorates in osteonecrosis. As a consequence of that, the cortical shell of the femoral head can buckle into the cancellous bone supporting it. In order to examine the buckling scenario we performed numerical analysis of a realistic femoral head model. The analysis included a solution of the hip contact problem, which provided the contact pressure distribution, and subsequent buckling simulation based on the given contact pressure. The contact problem was solved iteratively by approximating the cartilage by a discrete set of unilateral linear springs. The buckling calculations were based on a finite element mesh with brick elements for the cancellous bone and shell elements for the conical shell. Results of 144 simulations for a variety of geometrical, material, and loading parameters strengthen the buckling scenario. They, particularly, show that the normal cancellous bone serves as a strong supporting foundation for the cortical shell and prevents it from buckling. However, under the development of osteonecrosis the deteriorating cancellous bone is unable to prevent the cortical shell from buckling and the critical pressure decreases with the decreasing Young modulus of the cancellous bone. The local buckling of the conical shell seems to be the driving force of the progressive fracturing of the femoral head leading to its entire collapse. The buckling analysis provides an additional criterion of the femoral head collapse, the critical contact pressure. The buckling scenario also suggests a new argument in speculating on the femoral head reinforcement. If the entire collapse of the femoral head starts with the buckling of the cortical shell then it is reasonable to place the reinforcement as close to the conical shell as possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-470
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Buckling
  • Collapse
  • Cortical shell
  • Discrete element analysis
  • Femoral head
  • Finite element method
  • Osteonecrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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