Heterogeneous meshing and biomechanical modeling of human spine

J. C.M. Teo, C. K. Chui, Z. L. Wang, S. H. Ong, C. H. Yan, S. C. Wang, H. K. Wong, S. H. Teoh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We aim to develop a patient-specific biomechanical model of human spine for the purpose of surgical training and planning. In this paper, we describe the development of a finite-element model of the spine from the VHD™ Male Data. The finite-element spine model comprises volumetric elements suitable for deformation and other finite-element analysis using ABAQUS. The mesh generation solution accepts segmented radiological slices as input, and outputs three-dimensional (3D) volumetric finite element meshes that are ABAQUS compliant. The proposed mesh generation method first uses a grid plane to divide the contours of the anatomical boundaries and its inclusions into discrete meshes. A grid frame is then built to connect the grid planes between any two adjacent planes using a novel scheme. The meshes produced consist of brick elements in the interior of the contours and with tetrahedral and wedge elements at the boundaries. The nodal points are classified according to their materials and hence, elements can be assigned different properties. The resultant spine model comprises a detailed model of the 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, 5 lumbar vertebrae, and S1. Each of the vertebrae and intervertebral disc has between 1200 and 6000 elements, and approximately 1200 elements, respectively. The accuracy of the resultant VHD™ finite element spine model was good based on visual comparison of volume-rendered images of the original CT data, and has been used in a computational analysis involving needle insertion and static deformation. We also compared the mesh generated using our method against two automatically generated models; one consists of purely tetrahedral elements and the other hexahedral elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalMedical Engineering and Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Finite element method
  • Mesh generation
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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