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Malandrino, Andrea, Noailly, Jerome, Lacroix, Damien, (2011). The effect of sustained compression on oxygen metabolic transport in the intervertebral disc decreases with degenerative changes PLoS Computational Biology Plos Computational Biology , 7, (8), 1-12

Intervertebral disc metabolic transport is essential to the functional spine and provides the cells with the nutrients necessary to tissue maintenance. Disc degenerative changes alter the tissue mechanics, but interactions between mechanical loading and disc transport are still an open issue. A poromechanical finite element model of the human disc was coupled with oxygen and lactate transport models. Deformations and fluid flow were linked to transport predictions by including strain-dependent diffusion and advection. The two solute transport models were also coupled to account for cell metabolism. With this approach, the relevance of metabolic and mechano-transport couplings were assessed in the healthy disc under loading-recovery daily compression. Disc height, cell density and material degenerative changes were parametrically simulated to study their influence on the calculated solute concentrations. The effects of load frequency and amplitude were also studied in the healthy disc by considering short periods of cyclic compression. Results indicate that external loads influence the oxygen and lactate regional distributions within the disc when large volume changes modify diffusion distances and diffusivities, especially when healthy disc properties are simulated. Advection was negligible under both sustained and cyclic compression. Simulating degeneration, mechanical changes inhibited the mechanical effect on transport while disc height, fluid content, nucleus pressure and overall cell density reductions affected significantly transport predictions. For the healthy disc, nutrient concentration patterns depended mostly on the time of sustained compression and recovery. The relevant effect of cell density on the metabolic transport indicates the disturbance of cell number as a possible onset for disc degeneration via alteration of the metabolic balance. Results also suggest that healthy disc properties have a positive effect of loading on metabolic transport. Such relation, relevant to the maintenance of the tissue functional composition, would therefore link disc function with disc nutrition.

Keywords: Bovine nucleus pulposus, Human anulus fibrosus, Finite-element, Fluid-flow, Hydraulic permeability, Confined compression, Coupled diffusion, Solute transport, Water-content, Lumbar spine


Lacroix, D., Planell, J. A., Prendergast, P. J., (2009). Computer-aided design and finite-element modelling of biomaterial scaffolds for bone tissue engineering Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences , 367, (1895), 1993-2009

Scaffold biomaterials for tissue engineering can be produced in many different ways depending on the applications and the materials used. Most research into new biomaterials is based on an experimental trial-and-error approach that limits the possibility of making many variations to a single material and studying its interaction with its surroundings. Instead, computer simulation applied to tissue engineering can offer a more exhaustive approach to test and screen out biomaterials. In this paper, a review of the current approach in biomaterials designed through computer-aided design (CAD) and through finite-element modelling is given. First we review the approach used in tissue engineering in the development of scaffolds and the interactions existing between biomaterials, cells and mechanical stimuli. Then, scaffold fabrication through CAD is presented and characterization of existing scaffolds through computed images is reviewed. Several case studies of finite-element studies in tissue engineering show the usefulness of computer simulations in determining the mechanical environment of cells when seeded into a scaffold and the proper design of the geometry and stiffness of the scaffold. This creates a need for more advanced studies that include aspects of mechanobiology in tissue engineering in order to be able to predict over time the growth and differentiation of tissues within scaffolds. Finally, current perspectives indicate that more efforts need to be put into the development of such advanced studies, with the removal of technical limitations such as computer power and the inclusion of more accurate biological and genetic processes into the developed algorithms.

Keywords: Biomechanics, Tissue engineering, Biomaterials, Finite-element modelling