Human liver finite element model validation using compressive and tensile experimental data - biomed 2013

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2013;49:289-96.


Motor vehicle crashes commonly result in blunt abdominal trauma. Approximately 19,000 such injuries occur each year in the United States. While finite element models of the human body are becoming an important tool for injury assessment, their reliability depends on the accuracy of the material models used. Recently, Samur et al. proposed a hyperelastic and viscoelastic material model of the liver. The aim of this study was to compare the results of a computational model using this material law to uniaxial tension and compression data from biomechanical tests on liver samples by Kemper et al. In this study, the liver samples were modeled using the finite element method. Both the tension and compression test specimen geometries were created from descriptions in the literature. Each sample was meshed using four approaches: fine hexahedral, coarse hexahedral, fine tetrahedral, and coarse tetrahedral. The average element edge lengths of the coarse and fine meshes were 5 mm and 2.5 mm respectively. The samples were loaded in both tension and compression at four rates: 0.01 strain/sec, 0.1 strain/sec, 1 strain/sec, and 10 strain/sec. For each mesh type (n=4), strain rate (n=4), and loading condition (n=2), 32 simulations in total, the results were plotted against the published experimental data. The results were quantitatively evaluated for magnitude and phase agreement with the experimental data using an objective comparison software package, CORA. The model predicted the tensile response of the liver sample more accurately than the compressive response with an average CORA size error factor of 0.66 versus 0.19 for the compressive model (1 is a perfect match). The fine tetrahedral, fine hexahedral, and coarse hexahedral meshes predicted a similar response. The worst performing mesh was the coarse tetrahedral mesh, which had an average size error factor of 8.6% higher than the fine tetrahedral simulations. The peak stress in both tension and compression varied as a function of the loading rate. Peak tensile stress increased 13% from the lower to higher loading rate, and peak compressive stress increased 0.5%. These findings show evidence that the viscoelastic behavior is captured in the model, although it is under predicted in comparison to the literature. Future work will focus on other material models that better predict the experimentally observed loading observed in the literature. Validation of the liver model’s response to compressive and tensile loading conditions across multiple rates is important to ensure accurate injury predictions when used in a full body finite element model.