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Journal: Medical engineering & physics


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease, usually diagnosed by neuropsychological tests, and excluded from other cerebral diseases by brain images. An electroencephalogram (EEG) provides a means of disclosing the reduced functional couplings between brain regions that occurs with AD. In the present study, 16 probable AD patients and 15 age-matched, gender-matched normal subjects were enrolled. Spectral coherence and cross mutual information (CMI) were used to analyze EEGs during intermittent photic stimulation (PS). Ocular- and heartbeat-related source components (SCs) obtained from multi-channel EEGs by the independent component analysis were discarded, and the photic-related SCs were reduced using a comb filter. The undisturbed SCs and photic-related SCs before and after photic reduction were used to reconstruct photic-preserved EEGs and photic-reduced EEGs, from which harmonic coherences (direct photic-driving response) and rhythmic coherences and CMI (indirect photic affection) were computed, respectively. Our results indicate that the rhythmic coherences (particularly in the alpha and beta bands) and CMI variables as well as the harmonic coherences (particularly related to 3-Hz PS) were significantly lower in the probable AD than in normal subjects, whereas the variables derived from the resting EEGs were not statistically significant. This finding implied that the variables obtained during PS could be used to disclose impaired intra-brain associations in probable AD.

Concepts: Statistics, Neuroscience, Cerebral cortex, Neurology, Neurodegenerative disorders, Electroencephalography, Probability theory, Independent component analysis


New signal processing techniques have enabled the use of the vectorcardiogram (VCG) for the detection of cardiac ischemia. Thus, we studied this signal during ventricular depolarization in 80 ischemic patients, before undergoing angioplasty, and 52 healthy subjects with the objective of evaluating the vectorcardiographic difference between both groups so leading to their subsequent classification. For that matter, seven QRS-loop parameters were analyzed, i.e.: (a) Maximum Vector Magnitude; (b) Volume; © Planar Area; (d) Maximum Distance between Centroid and Loop; (e) Angle between XY and Optimum Plane; (f) Perimeter and, (g) Area-Perimeter Ratio. For comparison, the conventional ST-Vector Magnitude (ST(VM)) was also calculated. Results indicate that several vectorcardiographic parameters show significant differences between healthy and ischemic subjects. The identification of ischemic patients via discriminant analysis using ST(VM) produced 73.2% Sensitivity (Sens) and 73.9% Specificity (Spec). In our study, the QRS-loop parameter with the best global performance was Volume, which achieved Sens=64.5% and Spec=74.6%. However, when all QRS-loop parameters and ST(VM) were combined, we obtained Sens=88.5% and Spec=92.1%. In conclusion, QRS loop parameters can be accepted as a complement to conventional ST(VM) analysis in the identification of ischemic patients.

Concepts: Sensitivity and specificity, Heart disease, Signal processing, Difference, Differences, Ischemia, C, Parameter


Restricting our scope to the dynamical motion of the leaflets, we present a computational model for a symmetric, tri-leaflet, bioprosthetic heart valve (BHV) at the end of five complete cardiac pressure cycles, reaching the steady state of deformation during both closing and opening phases. To this end, we utilized a highly anisotropic material model for the large deformation behavior of the tissue material, for which an experimental validation was provided. The important findings are: (1) material anisotropy has significant effect on the valve opening/closing; (2) the asymmetric deformations, especially in the fully closed configuration, justify the use of cyclic symmetry; (3) adopting the fully-open position as an initial/reference configuration has the advantage of completely bypassing any complications arising from the need to assume the size and shape of the contact area in the coaptation regions of the leaflets that is necessary when the alternative, commonly-used, approach of selecting the fully-closed position is used as a reference; and (4) with proper treatments for both material anisotropy and tissue-to-tissue contact, the overall BHV model provide realistic results in conformity with the ex vivo/in vitro experiments.

Concepts: Thermodynamics, Symmetry, Geometry, Young's modulus, Attractor, Artificial heart valve, Asymmetry, Point groups in three dimensions


Strong evidence indicates that highly repetitive manual work is associated with the development of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). One of the occupational activities that involves highly repetitive and forceful hand work is manual pipetting in chemical or biological laboratories. In the current study, we quantified tendon displacement as a parameter to assess the cumulative loading exposure of the musculoskeletal system in the thumb during pipetting. The maximal tendon displacement was found in the flexor pollicis longus (FPL) tendon. Assuming that subjects' pipetting rates were maintained constant during a period of 1h, the average accumulated tendon displacement in the FPL reached 29m, which is in the lower range of those observed in other occupational activities, such as typing and nail gun operations. Our results showed that tendon displacement data contain relatively small standard deviations, despite high variances in thumb kinematics, suggesting that the tendon displacements may be useful in evaluating the musculoskeletal loading profile.

Concepts: Variance, Standard deviation, Flexor pollicis longus muscle, Extensor pollicis brevis muscle, Michigan, Musculoskeletal system


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of wheelchair mass, solid vs. pneumatic tires and tire pressure on physical strain and wheelchair propulsion technique. 11 Able-bodied participants performed 14 submaximal exercise blocks on a treadmill with a fixed speed (1.11m/s) within 3 weeks to determine the effect of tire pressure (100%, 75%, 50%, 25% of the recommended value), wheelchair mass (0kg, 5kg, or 10kg extra) and tire type (pneumatic vs. solid). All test conditions (except pneumatic vs. solid) were performed with and without instrumented measurement wheels. Outcome measures were power output (PO), physical strain (heart rate (HR), oxygen uptake (VO2), gross mechanical efficiency (ME)) and propulsion technique (timing, force application). At 25% tire pressure PO and subsequently VO2 were higher compared to 100% tire pressure. Furthermore, a higher tire pressure led to a longer cycle time and contact angle and subsequently lower push frequency. Extra mass did not lead to an increase in PO, physical strain or propulsion technique. Solid tires led to a higher PO and physical strain. The solid tire effect was amplified by increased mass (tire×mass interaction). In contrast to extra mass, tire pressure and tire type have an effect on PO, physical strain or propulsion technique of steady-state wheelchair propulsion. As expected, it is important to optimize tire pressure and tire type.

Concepts: Wheel, Tire, Tires


The care and outcome of patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) on chronic hemodialysis is directly dependent on their hemodialysis access. A brachiocephalic fistula (BCF) is commonly placed in the elderly and in patients with a failed lower-arm, or radiocephalic, fistula. However, there are numerous complications such that the BCF has an average patency of only 3.6 years. A leading cause of BCF dysfunction and failure is stenosis in the arch of the cephalic vein near its junction with the axillary vein, which is called cephalic arch stenosis (CAS). Using a combined clinical and computational investigation, we seek to improve our understanding of the cause of CAS, and to develop a means of predicting CAS risk in patients with a planned BCF access. This paper details the methodology used to determine the hemodynamic consequences of the post-fistula environment and illustrates detailed results for a representative sample of patient-specific anatomies, including a single, bifurcated, and trifurcated arch. It is found that the high flows present due to fistula creation lead to secondary flows in the arch owing to its curvature with corresponding low wall shear stresses. The abnormally low wall shear stress locations correlate with the development of stenosis in the singular case that is tracked in time for a period of one year.

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Dialysis, Force, Shear stress, Artificial kidney, Axillary vein, Cephalic vein, Basilic vein


Open reduction internal fixation technique has been generally accepted for treatment of midshaft clavicle fractures. Both superior and anterior clavicle plates have been reported in clinical or biomechanical researches, while presently the spiral clavicle plate design has been introduced improved biomechanical behavior over conventional designs. In order to objectively realize the multi-directional biomechanical performances among the three geometries for clavicle plate designs, a current conceptual finite element study has been conducted with identical cross-sectional features for clavicle plates. The conceptual superior, anterior, and spiral clavicle plate models were constructed for virtual reduction and fixation to an OTA 15-B1.3 midshaft transverse fracture of clavicle. Mechanical load cases including cantilever bending, axial compression, inferior bending, and axial torsion have been applied for confirming the multi-directional structural stability and implant safety in biomechanical perspective. Results revealed that the anterior clavicle plate model represented lowest plate stress under all loading cases. The superior clavicle plate model showed greater axial compressive stiffness, while the anterior clavicle plate model performed greater rigidity under cantilever bending load. Three model represented similar structural stiffness under axial torsion. Played as a transition structure between superior and anterior clavicle plate, the spiral clavicle plate model revealed comparable results with acceptable multi-directional biomechanical behavior. The concept of spiral clavicle plate design is worth considering in practical application in clinics. Implant safety should be further investigated by evidences in future mechanical tests and clinical observations.

Concepts: Bone fracture, Fracture, Orthopedic surgery, Clavicle fracture, Elasticity, Clavicle, Torsion, Superiority complex


Pedicle screws with polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) cement augmentation have been shown to significantly improve the fixation strength in a severely osteoporotic spine. However, the efficacy of screw fixation for different cement augmentation techniques remains unknown. This study aimed to determine the difference in pullout strength between different cement augmentation techniques. Uniform synthetic bones simulating severe osteoporosis were used to provide a platform for each augmentation technique. In all cases a polyaxial screw and acrylic cement (PMMA) at medium viscosity were used. Five groups were analyzed: I) only screw without PMMA (control group); II) retrograde cement pre-filling of the tapped area; III) cannulated and fenestrate screw with cement injection through perforation; IV) injection using a standard trocar of PMMA (vertebroplasty) and retrograde pre-filling of the tapped area; V) injection through a fenestrated trocar and retrograde pre-filling of the tapped area. Standard X-rays were taken in order to visualize cement distribution in each group. Pedicle screws at full insertion were then tested for axial pullout failure using a mechanical testing machine. A total of 30 screws were tested. The results of pullout analysis revealed better results of all groups with respect to the control group. In particular the statistical analysis showed a difference of Group V (p = 0.001) with respect to all other groups. These results confirm that the cement augmentation grants better results in pullout axial forces. Moreover they suggest better load resistance to axial forces when the distribution of the PMMA is along all the screw combining fenestration and pre-filling augmentation technique.

Concepts: Osteoporosis, Screw, Screw thread, Screws, Window


The accuracy of additive manufactured medical constructs is limited by errors introduced during image segmentation. The aim of this study was to review the existing literature on different image segmentation methods used in medical additive manufacturing.

Concepts: Manufacturing, Rapid manufacturing, Segmentation


Implant placement has been widely used in various kinds of surgery. However, accurate intraoperative drilling performance is essential to avoid injury to adjacent structures. Although some commercially-available surgical navigation systems have been approved for clinical applications, these systems are expensive and the source code is not available to researchers. 3D Slicer is a free, open source software platform for the research community of computer-aided surgery. In this study, a loadable module based on Slicer has been developed and validated to support surgical navigation. This research module allows reliable calibration of the surgical drill, point-based registration and surface matching registration, so that the position and orientation of the surgical drill can be tracked and displayed on the computer screen in real time, aiming at reducing risks. In accuracy verification experiments, the mean target registration error (TRE) for point-based and surface-based registration were 0.31±0.06mm and 1.01±0.06mm respectively, which should meet clinical requirements. Both phantom and cadaver experiments demonstrated the feasibility of our surgical navigation software module.

Concepts: Surgery, Research, Java, Source code, Open source, Free software, Open-source software, Automotive navigation system