A hyperelastic finite element model of human skin for interactive real-time surgical simulation

Rudy J. Lapeer, Paul D. Gasson, Vasudev Karri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


A finite element model of human skin is proposed for future use in an interactive real-time surgical simulation to teach surgeons procedures such as facial reconstruction using skin flap repair. For this procedure, skin is cut into flaps that are stretched to cover openings in the face. Thus, the model must recreate the visual, haptic and force feedback expected by the surgeon. To develop the finite element model, a series of in vitro experiments were conducted on samples of human skin, subjected to uni-axial and planar tensile straining. Reduced polynomial hyperelastic materials were found to fit many of the samples stress-strain data well. Finally, an explicit dynamic finite element mesh was developed based on the fitted hyperelastic material models. A total Lagrangian formulation with the half-step central difference method was employed to integrate the dynamic equation of motion of the mesh. The mesh was integrated into two versions of a real-time skin simulator: a single-threaded version running on a computer's main central processing unit and a multithreaded version running on the computer's graphics card. The latter was achieved by exploiting recent advances in programmable graphics technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1022
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number4
Early online date17 Feb 2010
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

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