Comparison of simplified bone-screw interface models in materially nonlinear μFE simulations

Pia Stefanek*, Dieter H Pahr, Alexander Synek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article


Micro finite-element (μFE) simulations serve as a crucial research tool to assist laboratory experiments in the biomechanical assessment of screw anchorage in bone. However, accurately modelling the interface between bone and screw threads at the microscale poses a significant challenge. Currently, the gold-standard approach involves employing computationally intensive physical contact models to simulate this interface. This study compared nonlinear μFE predictions of deformations, whole-construct stiffness, maximum force and damage patterns of three different computationally efficient simplified interface approaches to the general contact interface in Abaqus Explicit, which was defined as gold-standard and reference model. The μCT images (resolution: 32.8 μm) of two human radii with varying bone volume fractions were utilized and a screw was virtually inserted up to 50% and 100% of the volar-dorsal cortex distance. Materially nonlinear μFE models were generated and loaded in tension, compression and shear. In a first step, the common simplification of using a fully-bonded interface was compared to the general contact interface, revealing overestimations of whole-construct stiffness (19% on average) and maximum force (26% on average), along with inaccurate damage pattern replications. To enhance predictions, two additional simplified interface models were compared: tensionally strained element deletion (TED) and a novel modification of TED (TED-M). TED deletes interface elements strained in tension based on a linear-elastic simulation before the actual simulation. TED-M extends the remaining contact interface of TED by incorporating neighboring elements to the contact area. Both TED and TED-M reduced the errors in whole-construct stiffness and maximum force and improved the replication of the damage distributions in comparison to the fully-bonded approach. TED was better in predicting whole-construct stiffness (average error of 1%), while TED-M showed lowest errors in maximum force (1% on average). In conclusion, both TED and TED-M offer computationally efficient alternatives to physical contact modelling, although the fully-bonded interface may deliver sufficiently accurate predictions for many applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106634
Pages (from-to)106634
JournalJournal of the mechanical behavior of biomedical materials
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2024


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