The interface of Medical Imaging, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Rapid Prototyping (RP)
Medical Imaging has been providing important data on various body structures for diagnostic reasons. The possibility of using the provided data, practically and accurately, to obtain geometric information of body structures and generate easily three-dimensional models would be very important. Such models would be very useful for the realistic analysis of structures through FEA techniques and the design of various implants. The development of rapid prototyping models would assist the verification of implant designs but also the visualisation and communication of complex pathologies in a hospital environment.
A practical method is identified to interface data from CT and MRI images to FEA, CAD and RP systems. CT and MRI images of various structures, acquired from conventional hospital scanners, provided the input data to the examined interface system of commercially available software packages. The image data was visualised, segmented and three dimensionally reconstructed. Solid surfaces, usable by common CAD systems, were generated. The generated models incorporating tissues of interest were imported in a FEA environment for their finite element modelling. That environment served also as a tool for the further CAD modelling of the imaged structures and their conversion to a format readable by rapid prototyping systems. Rapid prototyping models of the imaged structures were produced using a stereolithography system.
Such interface was found to provide many advantages. The time taken for the development of a FEA model and the computer resources necessary for the analysis of complicated 3D models was greatly reduced. The various tissue types were accurately represented geometrically, allowing registration of the different material properties. The analysis assumptions upon geometry and materials were limited providing more accurate results. Such interface was found to facilitate the design of implants providing a verification tool of current and custom-made implant designs based on real patient data.
Medical Imaging, Finite Element Analysis, Computer Aided Analysis and Rapid Prototyping is presented as an integrated approach that can be used for the realistic modelling and simulation of various body structures and the design of implants. It is also possible to use the developed procedures within a hospital environment and introduce new ways of visualising and using medical scanner data. The identified method can be applied for diagnosis and preoperative planning of complex pathologies, design and verification of implants and educational purposes.
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Last major revision: April 2003