CHAMPAIGN, Ill., July 12 (UPI) — An engineering technique used to design high-rise buildings may soon give facial reconstruction patients better chances of a good outcome, U.S. researchers say.
An engineering design technique called topology optimization can be used to aid in bone replacement that improves the patient’s ability to chew, swallow, speak and even breathe, a University of Illinois release said Monday.
“The mid-face is perhaps the most complicated part of the human skeleton,” Glaucio Paulino, a professor of engineering, said. “What makes mid-face reconstruction more complicated is its unusual unique shape (bones are small and delicate) and functions.”
Topology optimization used 3-D modeling to design structures to support specific loads in tight spaces. It is often used in engineering structures, including high-rise buildings, and automobile parts.
“It tells you where to put material and where to create holes,” Paulino said. “Essentially, the technique allows engineers to find the best solution that satisfies design requirements and constraints.”
For bone replacements, surgeons often harvest bones from elsewhere in a patient’s body – the shoulder blade or hip, for example — and reshape them to replace the missing portion.
Topology optimization could create improved bone replacements, based on a 3-D computer model of the patient’s injury and the missing bone parts, researchers say.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.