Finite element based estimation of contact areas and pressures of the human scaphoid in various functional positions of the hand

Varga, Peter; Schefzig, Philip; Unger, Ewald; Mayr, Winfried; Zysset, Philippe K.; Erhart, Jochen (2013). Finite element based estimation of contact areas and pressures of the human scaphoid in various functional positions of the hand. Journal of biomechanics, 46(5), pp. 984-990. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.11.053

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The scaphoid is the most frequently fractured carpal bone. When investigating fixation stability, which may influence healing, knowledge of forces and moments acting on the scaphoid is essential. The aim of this study was to evaluate cartilage contact forces acting on the intact scaphoid in various functional wrist positions using finite element modeling. A novel methodology was utilized as an attempt to overcome some limitations of earlier studies, namely, relatively coarse imaging resolution to assess geometry, assumption of idealized cartilage thicknesses and neglected cartilage pre-stresses in the unloaded joint. Carpal bone positions and articular cartilage geometry were obtained independently by means of high resolution CT imaging and incorporated into finite element (FE) models of the human wrist in eight functional positions. Displacement driven FE analyses were used to resolve inter-penetration of cartilage layers, and provided contact areas, forces and pressure distribution for the scaphoid bone. The results were in the range reported by previous studies. Novel findings of this study were: (i) cartilage thickness was found to be heterogeneous for each bone and vary considerably between carpal bones; (ii) this heterogeneity largely influenced the FE results and (iii) the forces acting on the scaphoid in the unloaded wrist were found to be significant. As major limitations, accuracy of the method was found to be relatively low, and the results could not be compared to independent experiments. The obtained results will be used in a following study to evaluate existing and recently developed screws used to fix scaphoid fractures.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for Surgical Technology & Biomechanics ISTB

UniBE Contributor:

Zysset, Philippe


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Philippe Zysset

Date Deposited:

12 May 2014 09:24

Last Modified:

12 May 2014 09:24

Publisher DOI:



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