Strain Accommodation in the Zygomatic Arch of the Pig: A Validation Study Using Digital Speckle Pattern Interferometry and Finite Element Analysis

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finite element analysis, DSPI, validation, sutures, strain

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It has been repeatedly suggested that mammalian cranial sutures act not only to allow growth but also to reduce the levels of strain experienced by the skull during feeding. However, because of the added complexity they introduce, sutures are rarely included in finite element (FE) models, despite their potential to influence strain results. Because sutures present different morphologies and with differing degrees of internal fusion, many different methods of modeling may be necessary to accurately measure strain environments. Alternatively, these variables may exert very little influence on the scale of a whole‐skull model. To validate suture modeling methods, four alternative ways of including a suture in 3D FE models of the pig zygomatic arch were considered and compared with ex vivo experimental data from digital speckle pattern interferometry (DSPI). The use of DSPI rather than traditional strain gauge techniques allows strain gradients around the suture as well as the motions of the two bones to be observed. Results show that the introduction of 3D elements assigned more compliant material properties than the surrounding bone, is the most effective way of modeling both morphologies of suture, both in tension and compression. However, models containing no suture are almost indistinguishable from these compliant suture models, beyond the high strain gradient immediately adjacent to the suture. Conversely, modeling the suture as an open break in the mesh, or with spring elements assigned suture properties, fails to reproduce the experiment. Thus, although a solid but flexible model of sutures is preferred, the similarity between these models and those without sutures tentatively suggests that such extra detail may be unnecessary in pigs if the behavior of the whole skull is of interest.

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Journal of Morphology, v. 272, issue 11, p. 1388-1398