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Smoothing of pixelated finite element models of cancellous bone structures and the effect on the predicted structural properties of the bone

Dobson, C A; Sisias, G; Phillips, R; Langton, C M; Fagan, M J


C A Dobson

G Sisias

R Phillips

C M Langton

M J Fagan


Many areas of biomedical engineering involve the modelling of biological systems, often using data from medical scanning techniques such as computed microtomography (μCT), and the prediction of the mechanical properties of these systems via finite element models. These models, and also those produced from remodelling simulations on idealized bone structures, are inherently highly pixelated and therefore have a high degree of surface roughness. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that this surface roughness need not necessarily have an influence on the predicted properties of the object under examination. To demonstrate this, two-dimensional idealized models of cancellous bone structures were used that were initially depleted and then rebuilt stochastically. A hysteresis effect was observed such that a significant amount of rebuilding beyond the original density was required to regain the initial intact stiffness. To ensure that this effect was not an artefact of the high degree of surface roughness of the rebuilt structures, a two-stage smoothing procedure was applied to assess if this had any effect on the stiffness of the structures. The superpixelation of the structures appeared to have a more profound effect than the smoothing procedures, although the smoothed structures still had stiffness and density values similar to those of the original structures, with a hysteresis effect still evident. This proves that the pixelization of the structures does not have a significant effect on the predicted mechanical properties of the structures. This work has important implications for other models that exhibit a high degree of surface roughness.


Dobson, C. A., Sisias, G., Phillips, R., Langton, C. M., & Fagan, M. J. (2002). Smoothing of pixelated finite element models of cancellous bone structures and the effect on the predicted structural properties of the bone. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 216(2), 145-149.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 31, 2002
Online Publication Date Aug 5, 2016
Publication Date 2002-02
Print ISSN 0954-4119
Electronic ISSN 2041-3033
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 216
Issue 2
Pages 145-149
Keywords Mechanical Engineering; General Medicine
Public URL