Berkley J, Oppenheimer P, Weghorst S, Berg D, Raugi G, Haynor D, Ganter M, Brooking C, Turkiyyah G. Creating fast finite element models from medical images. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2000;70:26-32

PMID: 10977554


The procedure for creating a patient-specific virtual tissue model with finite element (FE) based haptic (force) feedback varies substantially from that which is required for generating a typical volumetric model. In addition to extracting geometrical and texture map data to provide visual realism, it is necessary to obtain information for supporting a FE model. Among many differences, FE-based VR environments require a FE model with appropriate material properties assigned. The FE equation must also be processed in a manner specific to the surgical task in order to maximize deformation and haptic computation speed. We are currently developing methodologies and support software for creating patient-specific models from medical images. The steps for creating such a model are as follows: I) obtain medical images and texture maps of tissue structures; 2) extract tissue structure contours; 3) generate a 3D mesh from the tissue structure contours; 4) alter mesh based on simulation objectives; 5) assign material properties, boundary nodes and texture maps; 6) generate a fast (or real-time) FE model; and 7) support the tissue models with task-specific tools and training aids. This paper will elaborate on the above steps with particular reference to the creation of suturing simulation software, which will also be described.