Artificial hips, knees, spinal implants, and other replacement orthopedic parts present unique challenges related to material properties, human physiology, surgical procedures and manufacturing processes. The pioneers that laid the foundation for the industry — many of whom are now leaders in developing orthopedic products and procedures — have always relied on ANSYS to help manage risk, improve insight and accelerate product development in the biomedical industry.

Stress calculation in the hip prosthesis and cap
Courtesy CADFEM.

More recently, research is focusing on how no two patients are alike: A one-size-fits-all prosthesis may not be attainable, whereas the design of a few models that fit a vast majority of the population is an ideal business compromise. But can you really create, much less test, designs that address the large variations that could occur?

That is the ongoing challenge for scientists and researchers. ANSYS is addressing that challenge with engineering simulation technology that has allowed more efficient and cost-effective design of devices for an ever-increasing representation of patients.

Virtual models allow researchers to understand how a device will function in a patient, and then to quickly move forward to refine the implant. The design or selection of the best-fit model for the countless variations that occur in the population is an evolving process. ANSYS leads the way in multiphysics modeling, which allows clinicians to create an unlimited database of virtual bones and other organs, offering as many variations on the human body as researchers would find in vivo.

From these designs, virtual prototypes can be modeled then tested under normal and extreme conditions using structural analysis and explicit modeling. These models not only allow researchers to take those results to the next step — using in silico testing to optimize devices that will be the right fit for each patient — but also to reduce the cost and time of bringing a prosthesis to market.

ANSYS has worked hand in hand with scientists and orthopedics companies to develop a unique workflow that will transform a standard biomedical image to a full 3-D structural modeling of an implant inserted in a patient-specific bone. As these designs are refined, new solutions will outperform existing models. Continued testing may result in implants tailor-made for each patient — or an acceptable compromise that considers patient and business satisfaction regardless of the specific solution, the process is adding additional information for an ever-growing database for further research.