Finite-element modeling of bones from CT data: Sensitivity to geometry and material uncertainties

Fulvia Taddei, Saulo Martelli, Barbara Reggiani, Luca Cristofolini, Marco Viceconti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this paper is to analyze how the uncertainties in modelling the geometry and the material properties of a human bone affect the predictions of a finite-element model derived from computed tomography (CT) data. A sensitivity analysis, based on a Monte Carlo method, was performed using three femur models generated from in vivo CT datasets, each subjected to two different loading conditions. The geometry, the density and the mechanical properties of the bone tissue were considered as random input variables. Finite-element results typically used in biomechanics research were considered as statistical output variables, and their sensitivity to the inputs variability assessed. The results showed that it is not possible to define a priori the influence of the errors related to the geometry definition process and to the material assignment process on the finite-element analysis results. The errors in the geometric representation of the bone are always the dominant variables for the stresses, as was expected. However, for all the variables, the results seemed to be dependent on the loading condition and to vary from subject to subject. The most interesting result is, however, that using the proposed method to build a finite-element model of a femur from a CT dataset of the quality typically achievable in the clinical practice, the coefficients of variation of the output variables never exceed the 9%. The presented method is hence robust enough to be used for investigating the mechanical behavior of bones with subject-specific finite-element models derived from CT data taken in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2194-2200
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006



  • Computed tomography
  • Finite-element methods
  • Monte Carlo methods
  • Sensitivity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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