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Title: Robust automatic hexahedral cartilage meshing framework enables population-based computational studies of the knee
Osteoarthritis of the knee is increasingly prevalent as our population ages, representing an increasing financial burden, and severely impacting quality of life. The invasiveness of in vivo procedures and the high cost of cadaveric studies has left computational tools uniquely suited to study knee biomechanics. Developments in deep learning have great potential for efficiently generating large-scale datasets to enable researchers to perform population-sized investigations, but the time and effort associated with producing robust hexahedral meshes has been a limiting factor in expanding finite element studies to encompass a population. Here we developed a fully automated pipeline capable of taking magnetic resonance knee images and producing a working finite element simulation. We trained an encoder-decoder convolutional neural network to perform semantic image segmentation on the Imorphics dataset provided through the Osteoarthritis Initiative. The Imorphics dataset contained 176 image sequences with varying levels of cartilage degradation. Starting from an open-source swept-extrusion meshing algorithm, we further developed this algorithm until it could produce high quality meshes for every sequence and we applied a template-mapping procedure to automatically place soft-tissue attachment points. The meshing algorithm produced simulation-ready meshes for all 176 sequences, regardless of the use of provided (manually reconstructed) or predicted (automatically generated) segmentation labels. The average time to mesh all bones and cartilage tissues was less than 2 min per knee on an AMD Ryzen 5600X processor, using a parallel pool of three workers for bone meshing, followed by a pool of four workers meshing the four cartilage tissues. Of the 176 sequences with provided segmentation labels, 86% of the resulting meshes completed a simulated flexion-extension activity. We used a reserved testing dataset of 28 sequences unseen during network training to produce simulations derived from predicted labels. We compared tibiofemoral contact mechanics between manual and automated reconstructions for the 24 pairs of successful finite element simulations from this set, resulting in mean root-mean-squared differences under 20% of their respective min-max norms. In combination with further advancements in deep learning, this framework represents a feasible pipeline to produce population sized finite element studies of the natural knee from subject-specific models.  more » « less
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Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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