Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Finite Element Analysis: A guide for clinicians

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Finite element (FE) analysis is a well-established computational technique, which is routinely used by engineers to build complex structures such as bridges, skyscrapers and planes and to model the effects of earthquakes and avalanches. It has been successfully applied to examine the mechanical environment of the musculoskeletal system over the past four decades, and appears increasingly in orthopaedic journals but there are key questions orthopaedic surgeons should ask about FE modelling, namely:
1. Can the clinical question be answered by a FE model?
2. Is the particular FE model that has been used appropriate for the clinical question being addressed?
3. Do the results pass the basic sanity check: e.g. does bone deform on load application as expected?
4. Has the model been experimentally validated? And if so was the experiment a good representation of in vivo reality?
5. Are the output variables being examined appropriate to the research question: e.g. are principal strains a good indicator of bone or implants failure?
6. Are the findings clinically important?
7. Is the model description and reporting adequate in terms of input parameters employed, the mechanics/physics used and the output considered
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1273
Number of pages3
JournalBone and Joint Journal
Issue number10
Early online date30 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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