Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-5-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Kenneth A. Mann

Honors Reader

Prof. James H. Henderson

Capstone Major

Biomedical and Chemical Engineering

Capstone College

Engineering and Computer Science

Audio/Visual Component



radiotherapy, cancer, bone density

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Other Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment


Cancer is a prevalent and diverse disease affecting fourteen million people in the United Sates alone. While some cancers can be treated effectively with one-time operations such as surgery, other cancers require more persistent treatments, commonly chemotherapy and radiation. These latter two treatments can have extreme side-effects and long-term ramifications. One long-term side effect of radiation therapy is a higher incidence of insufficiency fractures in bones of the skeleton. The mechanism responsible for this apparent weakness in bone is not well understood. In order to quantify changes in ductility following radiation therapy, femora from mice treated with 20 Gy radiation (with contralateral control) were subjected to three-point bend fracture toughness testing. A novel device for introducing a notch to the bones is presented in this study. Initiation fracture toughness was found to decrease 29% in irradiated bone compared to controls (p=.03). No significant difference was found in critical toughness or r-curve slope between control and irradiated bone. These results suggest that radiative therapy causes increased brittleness in cortical bone and could explain the increased incidence of fracture in patients treated with radiotherapy.

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