Computational modeling of flow-induced shear stresses within 3D salt-leached porous scaffolds imaged via micro-CT

Roman Voronov, Samuel VanGordon, Vassilios I. Sikavitsas, Dimitrios V. Papavassiliou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Flow-induced shear stresses have been found to be a stimulatory factor in pre-osteoblastic cells seeded in 3D porous scaffolds and cultured under continuous flow perfusion. However, due to the complex internal structure of porous scaffolds, analytical estimation of the local shear forces is impractical. The primary goal of this work is to investigate the shear stress distributions within Poly(l-lactic acid) scaffolds via computation. Scaffolds used in this study are prepared via salt leeching with various geometric characteristics (80-95% porosity and 215-402.5 μm average pore size). High resolution micro-computed tomography is used to obtain their 3D structure. Flow of osteogenic media through the scaffolds is modeled via lattice Boltzmann method. It is found that the surface stress distributions within the scaffolds are characterized by long tails to the right (a positive skewness). Their shape is not strongly dependent on the scaffold manufacturing parameters, but the magnitudes of the stresses are. Correlations are prepared for the estimation of the average surface shear stress experienced by the cells within the scaffolds and of the probability density function of the surface stresses. Though the manufacturing technique does not appear to affect the shape of the shear stress distributions, presence of manufacturing defects is found to be significant: defects create areas of high flow and high stress along their periphery. The results of this study are applicable to other polymer systems provided that they are manufactured by a similar salt leeching technique, while the imaging/modeling approach is applicable to all scaffolds relevant to tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1279-1286
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


  • Bone tissue engineering
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Fluid shear stress
  • Lattice Boltzmann simulation
  • Micro CT
  • Salt leeched scaffold


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