OBJECTIVE: The temporal bone shields sensorineural, nervous, and vascular structures explaining the potential severity and complications of trauma related to road and sport accidents. So far, no clear data are available on the exact mechanisms involved for fracture processes. Modelization of structures helps to answer these concerns. Our objective was to design a finite element model of the petrous bone structure to modelize temporal bone fracture propagation in a scenario of lateral impact. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A finite element model of the petrous bone structure was designed based on computed tomography data. A 7-m/s lateral impact was simulated to reproduce a typical lateral trauma. Results of model analysis was based on force recorded, stress level on bone structure up to induce a solution of continuity of the bony structure. RESULTS: Model simulation showed that bone fractures follow the main axes of the petrous bone and occured in a 2-step process: first, a crush, and second, a massive fissuration of the petrous bone. The lines of fracture obtained by simulation of a lateral impact converge toward the middle ear region. This longitudinal fracture is located at the mastoid-petrous pyramid junction. DISCUSSION: Using this model, it was possible to map petrous bone fractures including fracture chronology and areas of fusion of the middle ear region. This technique may represent a first step to investigate the pathophysiology of the petrous bone fractures, aiming to define prognostic criteria for patients' care.
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