Presurgical Finite Element Analysis from Routine Computed Tomography Studies for Craniofacial Distraction: II. An Engineering Prediction Model for Gradual Correction of Asymmetric Skull Deformities

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Finite element analysis from routine computed tomography studies (CT/FEA) allows clinicians to predict the mechanical and anatomic consequences of specific distraction systems before human application. A realistic three-dimensional CT/FEA engineering model of an actual plagiocephalic infant with unicoronal synostosis was developed using 4215 parabolic triangular shell elements and intracranial pressure conditions ranging from 10 to 20 mmHg. The completed finite element analysis model was used to predict the anatomic outcome of multiaxial distraction delivered by hypothetical patterns of rod and node distraction units. The predictions for the various patterns of distraction units were also compared quantitatively with respect to force, stress, strain, and intracranial volume. Best anatomic corrections were achieved with bilateral patterns of distraction units that simultaneously elongated the ipsilateral cranium and shortened the contralateral cranium. Greatest strain levels were experienced within the osteotomy callus, greatest stress levels at the appliance anchorage sites, and the greatest rod force at the ipsilateral lower coronal position. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1395, 1998.)

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