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Comparison of Different Material Models to Simulate 3-D Breast Deformations Using Finite Element Analysis


Biomechanical breast modeling using finite element (FE) analysis to predict 3-D breast deformations is of interest for various biomedical applications. Currently no consensus of reliable magnitudes of mechanical breast tissue properties exists. We therefore applied 12 material properties proposed in the literature to FE simulation models derived from prone MRI breast datasets of 18 female volunteers. A gravity free starting position is computed with an iterative FE algorithm followed by the calculation of the upright position of the breast and then compared to the real breast geometry in standing position using corresponding 3-D surface scans to determine the accuracy of the simulation. Hyper-elastic constitutive models showed superior performance than linear elastic models which cannot exceed the linear Hookean domain. Within the group of applied hyper-elastic material models those proposed by Tanner et al. (Med Phys 33:1758–1769, 2006) and Rajagopal et al. (Acad Radiol 15:1425–1436, 2008) performed significantly (p < 0.01) better than other material models. The advantage of the method presented is its non-invasive character by combining 3-D volume and surface imaging with automated FE analysis. Thus, reliable biomechanical breast models based on the presented methods can be applied in future to derive patient-specific material parameter sets to improve a wide range of healthcare applications.

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The authors would like to thank Prof. Dr. A. Haase, Director of the Institute of Medical Engineering at the Technische Universität München (IMETUM), Germany for his cooperation and infrastructural support. Furthermore, the authors are grateful to Prof. Dr. E. J. Rummeny, Director of the Institute of Radiology and Interventional Radiology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München for his cooperation and infrastructural support, which contributed enormously to the realization and success of this study. Funding for the study was received by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi-Funding No. 16INO607).

Conflict of interest

All authors disclose any financial or commercial associations and personal relationships with other people, organisations or with the companies named in the study that would inappropriately influence (bias) their work or create a conflict of interest with information presented in the submitted study. None of the authors are shareholders of one of the named companies whose hard- and software products were used in the study.

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Correspondence to Laszlo Kovacs.

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Maximilian Eder and Stefan Raith contributed equally to the article and share first authorship.

Associate Editor Peter E. McHugh oversaw the review of this article.

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Eder, M., Raith, S., Jalali, J. et al. Comparison of Different Material Models to Simulate 3-D Breast Deformations Using Finite Element Analysis. Ann Biomed Eng 42, 843–857 (2014).

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  • Breast biomechanics
  • Finite element analysis
  • Hyper-elastic material model
  • Numerical simulation
  • 3-D surface imaging