Optimization of a Patient-Specific External Fixation Device for Lower Limb Injuries

Mohammed S. Alqahtani, Abdulsalam Abdulaziz Al-Tamimi, Mohamed H. Hassan, Fengyuan Liu, Paulo Bartolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of external fixation devices is considered a valuable approach for the treatment of bone fractures, providing proper alignment to fractured fragments and maintaining fracture stability during the healing process. The need for external fixation devices has increased due to an aging population and increased trauma incidents. The design and fabrication of external fixations are major challenges since the shape and size of the defect vary, as well as the geometry of the human limb. This requires fully personalized external fixators to improve its fit and functionality. This paper presents a methodology to design personalized lightweight external fixator devices for additive manufacturing. This methodology comprises data acquisition, Computer tomography (CT) imaging analysis and processing, Computer Aided Design (CAD) modelling and two methods (imposed predefined patterns and topology optimization) to reduce the weight of the device. Finite element analysis with full factorial design of experiments were used to determine the optimal combination of designs (topology optimization and predefined patterns), materials (polylactic acid, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, and polyamide) and thickness (3, 4, 5 and 6 mm) to maximize the strength and stiffness of the fixator, while minimizing its weight. The optimal parameters were found to correspond to an external fixator device optimized by topology optimization, made in polylactic acid with 4 mm thickness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2661
Issue number16
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2021


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