The procedure for creating a patient-specific virtual tissue model with finite element (FE) based haptic (force) feedback varies substantially from that which is required for generating a typical volumetric model. In addition to extracting geometrical and texture map data to provide visual realism, it is necessary to obtain information for supporting a FE model. Among many differences, FE-based VR environments require a FE model with appropriate material properties assigned. The FE equation must also be processed in a manner specific to the surgical task in order to maximize deformation and haptic computation speed. We are currently developing methodologies and support software for creating patient-specific models from medical images. The steps for creating such a model are as foljows: 1) obtain medical images and texture maps of tissue structures; 2) extract tissue structure contours; 3) generate a 3D mesh from the tissue structure contours; 4) alter mesh based on simulation objectives; 5) assign material properties, boundary nodes and texture maps; 6) generate a fast (or real-time) FE model; and 7) support the tissue models with task-specific tools and training aids. This paper will elaborate on the above steps with particular reference to the creation of suturing simulation software, which will also be described.
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