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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Biophysics - Computer Science - Mathematics - Physics - Radiology and Medical Imaging

Computationally-Optimized Bone Mechanical Modeling from High-Resolution Structural Images
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Author: Jeremy F. Magland et al.

by Jeremy F. Magland, Ning Zhang, Chamith S. Rajapakse, Felix W. Wehrli

Image-based mechanical modeling of the complex micro-structure of human bone has shown promise as a non-invasive method for characterizing bone strength and fracture risk in vivo. In particular, elastic moduli obtained from image-derived micro-finite element (µFE) simulations have been shown to correlate well with results obtained by mechanical testing of cadaveric bone. However, most existing large-scale finite-element simulation programs require significant computing resources, which hamper their use in common laboratory and clinical environments. In this work, we theoretically derive and computationally evaluate the resources needed to perform such simulations (in terms of computer memory and computation time), which are dependent on the number of finite elements in the image-derived bone model. A detailed description of our approach is provided, which is specifically optimized for µFE modeling of the complex three-dimensional architecture of trabecular bone. Our implementation includes domain decomposition for parallel computing, a novel stopping criterion, and a system for speeding up convergence by pre-iterating on coarser grids. The performance of the system is demonstrated on a dual quad-core Xeon 3.16 GHz CPUs equipped with 40 GB of RAM. Models of distal tibia derived from 3D in-vivo MR images in a patient comprising 200,000 elements required less than 30 seconds to converge (and 40 MB RAM). To illustrate the system's potential for large-scale µFE simulations, axial stiffness was estimated from high-resolution micro-CT images of a voxel array of 90 million elements comprising the human proximal femur in seven hours CPU time. In conclusion, the system described should enable image-based finite-element bone simulations in practical computation times on high-end desktop computers with applications to laboratory studies and clinical imaging.