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Engineering could give reconstructive surgery a facelift
Date:7/12/2010

technique, Paulino said. "We looked at the clinical problem from a different perspective. Topology optimization offers an interdisciplinary framework to integrate concepts from medicine, biology, numerical methods, mechanics, and computations."

Topology optimization would create patient-specific, case-by-case designs for tissue-engineered bone replacements. First, the researchers construct a detailed 3-D computer model of the patient in question and specify a design domain based on the injury and missing bone parts. Then a series of algorithms creates a customized, optimized structure, accounting for variables including blood flow, sinus cavities, chewing forces and soft tissue support, among other considerations. The researchers can then model the process of inserting the replacement bone into the patient and how the patient would look.

"Ideally, it would allow the physician to explore surgical alternatives and to design patient-specific bone replacement. Each patient's bone replacement designs are tailored for their missing volume and functional requirements," Paulino said.

Now that they have demonstrated the concept successfully by modeling several different types of facial bone replacements, the researchers hope to work toward developing scaffolds for tissue engineering so that their designs could be translated to actual bones. They also hope to explore further surgical possibilities for their method.

"This technique has the potential to pave the way toward development of tissue engineering methods to create custom fabricated living bone replacements in optimum shapes and amounts," Paulino said. "The possibilities are immense and we feel that we are just in the beginning of the process."


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Contact: Liz Ahlberg
eahlberg@illinois.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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