A comparison between automatically generated linear and parabolic tetrahedra when used to mesh a human femur

K. Polgar, M. Viceconti, J. J. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Finite element models of bone segments generated from computed tomography data using automatic mesh generation algorithms are becoming common not only in research but also in clinical applications such as computer aided orthopaedic surgery. Especially in the case of the latter application, the models cannot be verified against an experimental measurement, therefore their inherent accuracy should be well known before drawing conclusions based on the calculated results. This study was carried out to assess the performance of tetrahedral solid finite elements with linear and quadratic displacement functions when they are used to mesh the human femur in conjunction with automatic mesh generator methods. Ten-node quadratic tetrahedra (T10) having parabolic displacement functions were compared with four-node linear tetrahedron elements (T4) on the basis of accuracy and central processing unit (CPU) time. From the analyses of 11 finite element meshes, it was concluded that linear tetrahedral elements should be avoided and quadratic tetrahedral elements ought to be chosen for the purposes of finite element analysis of the human femur. When incremental loading and iterative solution is necessary, the coarsest possible T10 mesh compatible with accuracy is needed to minimize computer capacity and CPU time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Finite element modelling
  • Human femur
  • Linear and parabolic tetrahedron
  • Mesh refinement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison between automatically generated linear and parabolic tetrahedra when used to mesh a human femur'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this