Finite Element Analysis of Osteosynthesis Screw Fixation in the Bone Stock: An Appropriate Method for Automatic Screw Modelling
The use of finite element analysis (FEA) has grown to a more and more important method in the field of biomedical engineering and biomechanics. Although increased computational performance allows new ways to generate more complex biomechanical models, in the area of orthopaedic surgery, solid modelling of screws and drill holes represent a limitation of their use for individual cases and an increase of computational costs. To cope with these requirements, different methods for numerical screw modelling have therefore been investigated to improve its application diversity. Exemplarily, fixation was performed for stabilization of a large segmental femoral bone defect by an osteosynthesis plate. Three different numerical modelling techniques for implant fixation were used in this study, i.e. without screw modelling, screws as solid elements as well as screws as structural elements. The latter one offers the possibility to implement automatically generated screws with variable geometry on arbitrary FE models. Structural screws were parametrically generated by a Python script for the automatic generation in the FE-software Abaqus/CAE on both a tetrahedral and a hexahedral meshed femur. Accuracy of the FE models was confirmed by experimental testing using a composite femur with a segmental defect and an identical osteosynthesis plate for primary stabilisation with titanium screws. Both deflection of the femoral head and the gap alteration were measured with an optical measuring system with an accuracy of approximately 3 µm. For both screw modelling techniques a sufficient correlation of approximately 95% between numerical and experimental analysis was found. Furthermore, using structural elements for screw modelling the computational time could be reduced by 85% using hexahedral elements instead of tetrahedral elements for femur meshing. The automatically generated screw modelling offers a realistic simulation of the osteosynthesis fixation with screws in the adjacent bone stock and can be used for further investigations.