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World J Orthop. Apr 18, 2012; 3(4): 25-41
Published online Apr 18, 2012. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v3.i4.25
Applications of finite element simulation in orthopedic and trauma surgery
Antonio Herrera, Elena Ibarz, José Cegoñino, Antonio Lobo-Escolar, Sergio Puértolas, Enrique López, Jesús Mateo, Luis Gracia
Antonio Herrera, Antonio Lobo-Escolar, Jesús Mateo, Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Miguel Servet University Hospital, Medicine School, University of Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Elena Ibarz, José Cegoñino, Sergio Puértolas, Enrique López, Luis Gracia, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Zaragoza, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
Author contributions: All authors made substantial contributions to the conception and design, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, drafting the article, and revising it critically for important intellectual content and giving final approval of the version to be published.
Correspondence to: Antonio Herrera, MD, PhD, Head Professor, Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Miguel Servet University Hospital, Medicine School, University of Zaragoza, Avda. Isabel la Católica, 1, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain.
Telephone: +34-976-765664 Fax: +34-976-765652
Received: August 8, 2011
Revised: November 23, 2011
Accepted: March 3, 2012
Published online: April 18, 2012

Research in different areas of orthopedic and trauma surgery requires a methodology that allows both a more economic approach and the ability to reproduce different situations in an easy way. Simulation models have been introduced recently in bioengineering and could become an essential tool in the study of any physiological unity, regardless of its complexity. The main problem in modeling with finite elements simulation is to achieve an accurate reproduction of the anatomy and a perfect correlation of the different structures, in any region of the human body. Authors have developed a mixed technique, joining the use of a three-dimensional laser scanner Roland Picza captured together with computed tomography (CT) and 3D CT images, to achieve a perfect reproduction of the anatomy. Finite element (FE) simulation lets us know the biomechanical changes that take place after hip prostheses or osteosynthesis implantation and biological responses of bone to biomechanical changes. The simulation models are able to predict changes in bone stress distribution around the implant, so allowing preventing future pathologies. The development of a FE model of lumbar spine is another interesting application of the simulation. The model allows research on the lumbar spine, not only in physiological conditions but also simulating different load conditions, to assess the impact on biomechanics. Different degrees of disc degeneration can also be simulated to determine the impact on adjacent anatomical elements. Finally, FE models may be useful to test different fixation systems, i.e., pedicular screws, interbody devices or rigid fixations compared with the dynamic ones. We have also developed models of lumbar spine and hip joint to predict the occurrence of osteoporotic fractures, based on densitometric determinations and specific biomechanical models, including approaches from damage and fracture mechanics. FE simulations also allow us to predict the behavior of orthopedic splints applied to the correction of deformities, providing the recovering force-displacement and angle-moment curves that characterize the mechanical behavior of the splint in the overall range of movement.

Keywords: Finite element simulation, Hip prosthesis, Lumbar spine, Lumbar fixations, Osteoporotic fractures, Splints