At the University of Queensland in Australia, Dr. Olga Panagiotopoulou has been researching the effects of feeding on the mechanics of the primate jaw. The ultimate goal of her research is to determine the relationship between the form and function of the mandible during mastication, and thereby improve the accuracy of anatomical models and jaw implants.
Dr. Panagiotopoulou and colleagues from the USA have been using a Rhesus monkey to measure the activation patterns of all major muscles and bone strains while the monkey was chewing food of various toughness and hardness.
Segmenting the CT data in Materialise Mimics
Using computed tomography, the researchers captured the skeletal geometry of the monkey’s head and segmented the CT dataset in Materialise Mimics. To do that they separated the mandible from the cranium and extracted 3D surface datasets of the cortical bone, the trabecular tissue and the teeth and the periodontal ligament. After regrouping the parts in Materialise 3-matic to create a non-manifold file, they assembled them into a single entity with multiple intersecting parts.
The outcome of the research
The assembly parts were then converted into volumetric mesh files of solid continuum linear tetrahedral elements of type C3D4. The team managed to assign 80 heterogeneous and orthotropic material properties to the cortical bone in Materialise Mimics, using calculations based on ex vivo experiments. They were then able to simulate the chewing of the monkey by creating a finite element model in ABAQUS with the default implicit direct static solver and Newtonian default iterations.
The teams at Materialise Belgium and Materialise Malaysia in particular helped to create specific algorithms, which allowed the researchers to create accurate volumetric files without comprising on model geometry. The model of the mandible will be used to test jaw implants and their effects on the mechanics of chewing, in a new collaboration with Materialise.
About Dr. Olga Panagiotopoulou
Dr. Olga Panagiotopoulou is an evolutionary morphologist, functional anatomist and biomechanist interested in assessing the links between form (morphology), function (mechanics) and the pathology of the vertebrate musculoskeletal system during feeding and locomotion.
She received her BA at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2003, her MSc on Human Osteology and Paleopathology from the University of Bradford in 2006 and her PhD at the University of York in 2010. She then joined the Structure and Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College for a three-year BBSRC postdoc on comparative locomotor mechanics and pathology, receiving a Marie Curie Reintegration Fellowship during her last two years. Dr. Panagiotopoulou is the Head of the Moving Morphology & Functional Mechanics Laboratory at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland.