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Experiments on virtual humans? – How simulation helps to optimize medical products

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Image 2 Stress distribution on the body

Clinical examinations usually take a very long time and are extremely expensive. Furthermore, it is often difficult to derive precise clinical evidence from them.

In a previous blog I briefly described how the effectiveness of operations in the nasal cavity can be simulated on a computational model even before the operation. Thereby, the exact geometry of a patient’s nose and throat can be measured, processed, networked and used for flow simulation with the help of computed tomography CT. (https://www.merkle-partner.de/en/nose-surgery-cfd-simulation/)

We are currently using a similar process in the development of wound dressings. Our customer, the company PAUL HARTMANN AG in Heidenheim, Germany, develops various wound dressings to avoid or reduce pressure points in bedridden people as much as possible.

The physical behavior of the wound dressings and especially of the different layers of material can be determined by experiments.
Skin, fatty tissue, muscles and bones are also materials that can be measured and implemented as material models in an FEM model.

Image 1 Computational model torso from CT scan

The buttocks of a 65-year-old woman are used for the calculation, which was measured using an MRI procedure. From this, a 3D model of the buttocks was developed. The advantage: all results of the FEM simulations are comparable with each other. The advantage to clinical studies is that there are no side effects to fear, apart from the MRI measurements themselves, which in my own experience are not so bad. (My experience in MRI, not as a woman!)

The examination on the FEM model can be carried out with a wide variety of wound dressing structures, cuts and positions on the body. For example, the stresses on the skin surface are evaluated, but also the stress distribution in a predefined area.

Image 2 Stress distribution on the body

The results were very promising and lead to a further, even more intensive cooperation between the companies PAUL HARTMANN AG and Merkle & Partner.

What will the future offer us? Will we one day be able to describe the human body completely as a simulation model? In my estimation, this is all just a question of time, especially the computing capacity.

This, however, rises well-behaved according to Moor’s law and doubles every 18 months.

Stay curious about what can be simulated in the future.

Your Stefan Merkle

PS: The technical article on this subject can be requested directly from our authors Dr. Maik Brehm and Sören Burckardt.

Alternatively, you can purchase the article for a fee in the International Wound Journal for a fee.
The “International Wound Journal” is one of the renowned international journals in its field. International Wound Journal Impact Factor is 2.385, and it is ranked 26th out of 66 dermatology journals. In addition to dermatology, the Journal also ranks 67th out of 203 surgical journals tracked by the ISI.

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Stefan Merkle

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