Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Tailor-made bone biomaterials

EU-funded scientists have developed novel simulation software geared toward bone implants and tissue engineering. Extracting mechanical properties from computed tomography (CT) data will enable physicians to plan surgeries specific to individual patients.
Tailor-made bone biomaterials
CT is a sophisticated imaging technique that reconstructs a 3D image from numerous image 'slices' of a material. The material is then represented by voxels, small volume units that enable detailed representation of the material's topology and geometry. Commercial exploitation of CT images for the structural design of biomaterials and implants is currently hampered by a lack of corresponding physicochemical data to inform finite element method (FEM) mechanical models. Rather, bioengineers use regression analyses or guesswork based on experience, making inferences rather ill-suited to computer-aided design (CAD).

Recently, pioneering researchers developed novel techniques to extract chemical composition data from CT scans and convert it into material properties. EU-funded scientists exploited this knowledge to develop simulation tools for orthopaedics and bone tissue engineering with the project 'Innovative simulation tool for bone and bone biomaterials, based on enhanced CT-data exploitation' (BIO-CT-EXPLOIT).

In particular, investigators sought a solution for the representation of patient-specific properties in an intuitive and easy-to-use software package to aid physicians in surgery planning. CT scans of numerous bio-engineered and natural bone materials together with comprehensive mechanical testing of biomaterials facilitated the development of algorithms for the conversion of voxel-specific volumetric X-ray information into three different types of elastic properties. These were combined with image analysis tools to form the complete software package.

BIO-CT-EXPLOIT simulation software is a valuable tool for physicians, enabling improved surgery planning and tailoring of tissue implants and scaffolds to individual patients. Longer lives with fewer complications are to be expected, particularly important for the EU's ageing population. Accurate conversion of CT data to mechanical properties will no doubt also find application in numerous other fields of materials research.

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