Automatic generation of accurate subject-specific bone finite element models to be used in clinical studies

J Biomech. 2004 Oct;37(10):1597-605. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2003.12.030.


Most of the finite element models of bones used in orthopaedic biomechanics research are based on generic anatomies. However, in many cases it would be useful to generate from CT data a separate finite element model for each subject of a study group. In a recent study a hexahedral mesh generator based on a grid projection algorithm was found very effective in terms of accuracy and automation. However, so far the use of this method has been documented only on data collected in vitro and only for long bones. The present study was aimed at verifying if this method represents a procedure for the generation of finite element models of human bones from data collected in vivo, robust, accurate, automatic and general enough to be used in clinical studies. Robustness, automation and numerical accuracy of the proposed method were assessed on five femoral CT data sets of patients affected by various pathologies. The generality of the method was verified by processing a femur, an ileum, a phalanx, a proximal femur reconstruction, and the micro-CT of a small sample of spongy bone. The method was found robust enough to cope with the variability of the five femurs, producing meshes with a numerical accuracy and a computational weight comparable to those found in vitro. Even when the method was used to process the other bones the levels of mesh conditioning remained within acceptable limits. Thus, it may be concluded that the method presents a generality sufficient to cope with almost any orthopaedic application.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Child
  • Femur / anatomy & histology
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Ileum / anatomy & histology
  • Ileum / diagnostic imaging
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*