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An adaptive finite element model for steerable needles

Terzano, Michele, Dini, Daniele, Rodriguez y Baena, Ferdinando, Spagnoli, Andrea and Oldfield, Matthew (2020) An adaptive finite element model for steerable needles Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology.

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Penetration of a flexible and steerable needle into a soft target material is a complex problem to be modelled, involving several mechanical challenges. In the present paper, an adaptive finite element algorithm is developed to simulate the penetration of a steerable needle in brain-like gelatine material, where the penetration path is not predetermined. The geometry of the needle tip induces asymmetric tractions along the tool–substrate frictional interfaces, generating a bending action on the needle in addition to combined normal and shear loading in the region where fracture takes place during penetration. The fracture process is described by a cohesive zone model, and the direction of crack propagation is determined by the distribution of strain energy density in the tissue surrounding the tip. Simulation results of deep needle penetration for a programmable bevel-tip needle design, where steering can be controlled by changing the offset between interlocked needle segments, are mainly discussed in terms of penetration force versus displacement along with a detailed description of the needle tip trajectories. It is shown that such results are strongly dependent on the relative stiffness of needle and tissue and on the tip offset. The simulated relationship between programmable bevel offset and needle curvature is found to be approximately linear, confirming empirical results derived experimentally in a previous work. The proposed model enables a detailed analysis of the tool–tissue interactions during needle penetration, providing a reliable means to optimise the design of surgical catheters and aid pre-operative planning.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Mechanical Engineering Sciences
Authors :
Terzano, Michele
Dini, Daniele
Rodriguez y Baena, Ferdinando
Spagnoli, Andrea
Date : 9 March 2020
Funders : European Research Council under the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, European Union’s EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
DOI : 10.1007/s10237-020-01310-x
Copyright Disclaimer : © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Uncontrolled Keywords : Needle insertion; Needle steering; Cohesive elements; Finite element method; Crack propagation; Programmable bevel-tip needle
Additional Information : Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article ( contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 11 Mar 2020 16:32
Last Modified : 10 Mar 2021 02:08

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