Written by Megan Jenkins on August 20, 2019
February 7th, 2018
approx reading time
7 Minute Read
The healthcare industry needs innovation, and improving quality of life through advanced technologies adoption is the essence of progress. Bringing better products to market more quickly is a central challenge in the development of medical devices, orthopedics, and implants.
The world’s population is aging, creating pressure to increase the quality and diversity of healthcare industry services. Despite challenges related to decreasing financial support, mandatory cost control, growing competition in the market and clinical testing constraints, the healthcare industry is one of the most important beneficiaries of the advantages offered by the digital revolution. Engineering platforms and simulation analysis have a particularly large applicability in the healthcare field, from anatomical and physiological elements modeling to improving the medical procedures, surgery training, and medical education .
The medical device industry faces many challenges related to increased global competition, proven efficacy, and highest possible production quality. To meet these demands, medical device producers must improve and manage quality increases in their products. Conformity with rigorous system regulations is also a must .
Simulation offers many benefits in medical devices design and testing. Medical researchers and engineers are able to accurately optimize equipment or appliance designs in different conditions. Engineering simulation provides a better understanding of the mechanical behavior of devices, depending on shape and composition, or more tailored patient-specific implants. Used as part of device prototyping, simulation reduces the time to market and generates valuable data about implant interactions with the body. 3D-image data provided by magnetic resonance scanners or computed tomography (CT) are used to reconstruct complex anatomical body structures by iterative simulation analysis. Today, smart medical equipment embeds multifunctional electronic and microelectronic capabilities, enhancing patient safety and reducing the subjective impact of medical staff.
As part of emerging trends in systems biology, P4 Medicine is a new concept bringing Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory elements. P4 Medicine’s main objectives are to quantify wellness and demystify disease . P4 Medicine will make blood a diagnostic tool for determining individual health status, will open new approaches to drug target discovery, and will save millions of lives. Opening the road to the Medical IoT (Internet of Things) depends on the better design and fast industry assimilation. As with all other electronics applications, simulation is a proven way to optimize implantable or standard personal diagnostic devices.
Orthopaedic researchers are extending the life of implants and developing innovative replacement therapies for aging hips, spines, shoulders, knees, or dental implants. A critical particularity for orthopedic development is ensuring a perfect fit with a person’s physiology. Any artificial component requests a perfect-fit design, prototyping, testing and manufacturing process, and light fabric materials compatible with surgical procedures.
“In silico medicine” or “computational medicine” is the application of “in silico” research in computer simulation for diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of a disease. More specifically, in silico medicine is characterized by modeling, simulation, and visualization of biological and medical processes in computers with the goal of simulating real biological processes in a virtual environment . Though no two people are the same, the prosthesis models being development should fit a population majority. The alternative is to customize the implant through 3D printing.
The study of hemodynamics is critical for cardiac device development, and this is carried out using engineering simulation and advanced fluid-structure interaction modeling. Implantable cardiovascular devices—such as stents, coils, heart valves and pacemakers—are saving hundreds of thousands of lives every year. The main challenges here are increasingly complex and strict regulations, in addition to slow and costly pre-clinical testing in order to fit standards compliance. Benchmarking new cardiac devices in the healthcare industry could be radically improved through model analysis or in silico medicine. CAE tools could quickly and efficiently provide multiple scenarios until fitting compliance conditions.
Modern orthopedic procedures are developed using additive manufacturing. Despite molding procedures being used for more than 15 years, new design and manufacturing facilities offered by 3D printing open a large spectrum of advantages. The main trabecular products are hip cups, shoulder implants, knee tibial plates, and mini-hip stems . Using engineering simulation for prototyping and 3D printing allows significant cost reductions. If the traditional orthopedic industry used 1,500-2,000 tons of titanium in 2015, additive manufacturing required less than 3%.
Based in essence on the same simulation and additive procedures, dental implant surgery is the most frequently demanded dental technique to replace untreatable teeth.
With SimScale, continued innovation within the healthcare industry can be combined with improved design reliability and more affordable development processes. The platform facilitates the effective simulation of healthcare and medical products, including medical equipment, diagnostic and personalized devices, orthopedic support, and dental implants. Using virtual models reduces the number of prototypes needed. Engineering simulation also enables healthcare testing products for use in a wide variety of conditions. It enables innovation while maximizing reliability.
Combining structural mechanics, CFD, and thermal analyses, engineers working in healthcare can virtually test and improve device designs while reducing production costs. This practice reduces the time for approval, in addition to reducing the time to market.
The more practical approach to understanding this is to look at simulations in real examples. Here are some interesting projects for healthcare simulation projects from the SimScale Public Projects:
Safety First – Impact on Human Skull. Helmet manufacturing is very important for human body protection in many activities and sports. In this project, the impact of a human skull with and without a helmet has been simulated by SimScale specialists. The geometry of skull—provided by open source—has been edited and cleaned before uploading to the platform. Due to symmetry, only one half of the skull was considered for the analysis. A nonlinear dynamic analysis was performed for the impact study. An initial velocity of 6.944 m/s (25 km/h) was adopted, while the von Mises stress and total nonlinear strain magnitude in the skull is used at highest impact point to help you determine helmet and skull damage at the maximum impact point.
The femur is the longest, heaviest and strongest bone in the human body, supporting all of the body weight during walking and running. On its proximal end, it has a hip joint with a spherical shape known as the “head of femur,” which allows it to move in almost any direction. On its distal end, it forms a knee joint with the lower leg. In this project, an advanced static analysis was selected as analysis type with nonlinearity set to false. The bone was fixed at the distal end, whereas the force load in negative z-direction was applied on the proximal end. Three load cases were considered; load of 10, 100 and 500 N.
Here is an example of how the internal airflow through a medical device can be analyzed, to ensure device optimization depending on velocity peaks. The fluid volume was extracted via a local CAD software. The simulation was set up by applying a fixed volume flux at the inlet and a zero-gradient boundary condition at the outlet. A k-omega-SST model has been used to account for turbulence effects. The steady-state simulation needed around 320 iterations to reach satisfying convergence criteria, which took around 30 minutes on a four-core machine. The results are used to optimize the design in terms of the velocity peaks and the pressure drop of the device.
The purpose of a helmet is to protect the person who wears it from a head injury during impact. In this project, the impact of a human skull with and without a helmet was simulated with a nonlinear dynamic analysis. Download this case study for free.
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