Cryoinsult-induced osteonecrosis (ON) in the emu femoral head provides a unique opportunity to systematically explore the pathogenesis of ON in an animal model that progresses to human-like femoral head collapse. Among the various characteristics of cryoinsult, the maximally cold temperature attained is one plausible determinant of tissue necrosis. To identify the critical isotherm required to induce development of ON in the cancellous bone of the emu femoral head, a thermal finite element (FE) model of intraoperative cryoinsults was developed. Thermal material property values of emu cancellous bone were estimated from FE simulations of cryoinsult to emu cadaver femora, by varying model properties until the FE-generated temperatures matched corresponding thermocouple measurements. The resulting FE model, with emu bone-specific thermal properties augmented to include blood flow effects, was then used to study intraoperatively performed in vivo cryoinsults. Comparisons of minimum temperatures attained at FE nodes corresponding to the three-dimensional histologically apparent boundary of the region of ON were made for six experimental cryoinsults. Series-wide, a critical isotherm of 3.5°C best corresponded to the boundary of the osteonecrotic lesions.
- Finite element model