Patient-specific simulation to improve understanding of cerebral aneurysms

Southpointe 02 March 2009ANSYS Inc., a global innovator of simulation software and technologies designed to optimize product development processes, together with the @neurIST project has completed a major milestone toward its goal of helping clinicians understand and manage cerebral aneurysms. The project teamed with ANSYS to incorporate high-end engineering simulation, which is being increasingly used in the fields of biomedicine and health care.


The @neurIST project successfully demonstrated its underlying series of linked tools - called a "toolchain" - utilizing software from ANSYS, which automates complex tasks such as aneurysm modelling and simulation. The project is now moving toward developing patient-specific treatment for this devastating condition.

An aneurysm is the ballooning of a weakened artery wall - with cerebral aneurysm occurring in the brain, with the constant threat that it may burst, leading to uncontrolled bleeding and often death. Ultimately, the @neurIST project expects to provide individualized aneurysm rupture predictions. The toolchain is a critical part of the project's infrastructure. It combines diverse, independent tools into an integrated suite, in which the output of one tool becomes the input for the next. The resulting automated work flow brings together multiple strands of patient data - including CT scans, X-rays, angiograms, and other routine test results - transforming them into 3D representations that are the basis for dynamic simulations performed with ANSYS software.

The resulting information can be used in other @neurIST software systems by doctors, researchers and engineers at hospitals, universities and medical device companies to develop patient-specific treatments. Current medical solutions have significant rates of impairment and mortality, and so the innovative approach of @neurIST will enable medical teams to assess the threat of rupture versus the need for risky surgery. Project partners are now collecting and analysing clinical data in expectation of developing best practices and, perhaps, identifying the underlying causes of the condition.

"There is a demonstrated need for the use of computer-based imaging and monitoring not just to diagnose disease, but also for patient-specific simulations to test alternative treatments", stated Jim Cashman, president and chief executive officer at ANSYS Inc. "@neurIST is a comprehensive example of this. It fuses diagnostic, modelling and simulation data into a coherent representation of a patient's condition. ANSYS is at the foundation of the project because of our commitment to advancing the use of engineering simulation in new and innovative applications - things that previously were never imagined. The company has long served the biomedical industry with leading-edge technology that enables advances in solving unique and complex problems."

"The aim of the @neurIST project is to transform the management of the condition by providing new insight, personalized risk assessment and methods for the design of improved medical devices and enhanced treatment protocols. This demonstration marks a major milestone within the project and is an important step on the way to personalized risk assessment, which could reduce unnecessary treatment by 50 percent or more, with resulting estimated savings of hundreds of millions of euros per annum. Beyond financial benefits, the personal - and family - consequences of aneurysm rupture are devastating", stated Alejandro Frangi of Barcelona's Universitat Pompeu Fabra, which is co-ordinating the @neurIST project. "We have exposed the toolchain to detailed evaluation by critical groups of clinicians and surgeons, and the response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, with over 8 out of 10 professionals expecting to see the system enter clinical service."

"Our experience with collaborative projects such as @neurIST has shown that combining expertise in the different disciplines has enabled us to achieve much more than any one of us could have done on our own. The modular approach that the team has adopted enables the rapid integration of the project's different tools with software from ANSYS. This has enabled the results to be assessed quickly, all in order to understand their implications for the treatment of cerebral aneurysms", stated Ian Jones, head of technical services at ANSYS UK.

These results are utilized by other tools developed as part of the project, some of which are also based on ANSYS software. For example, the @neuENDO software suite can customize and optimize the design of medical devices such as stents and coils. "@neuENDO enables the designer to study the effects of the fluid dynamics and the stresses within the arteries as well as the relative benefits of alternative stents, using the integrated capability of software from ANSYS to simulate fluid structure interactions", stated Derek Sweeney, managing director of IDAC Ireland, an ANSYS channel partner responsible for the delivery of the @neuENDO module.

ANSYS channel partner IDAC is a computer-aided engineering consultancy firm headquartered in Ireland. The company has supported organisations involved in research and development by simulating design performance in an effort to produce better designs in less time.

ANSYS Inc., founded in 1970, develops and globally markets engineering simulation software and technologies widely used by engineers and designers across a broad spectrum of industries. The company focuses on the development of open and flexible solutions that enable users to analyse designs directly on the desktop, providing a common platform for fast, efficient and cost-conscious product development, from design concept to final-stage testing and validation. The company and its global network of channel partners provide sales, support and training for customers. Headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., with more than 60 strategic sales locations throughout the world, ANSYS Inc. and its subsidiaries employ approximately 1700 people and distribute ANSYS products through a network of channel partners in over 40 countries.

The @neurIST project, which has the full title Integrated Biomedical Informatics for the Management of Cerebral Aneurysms, is an integrated project in the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and seeks to provide channels for the integration of all data sources on cerebral aneurysm. Of the project's seven workpackages, two are dedicated to the development of the four integrated exploitation suites of software that are destined for clinical and industrial use, two more are providing a secure IT infrastructure and one is collecting detailed clinical data. Workpackages dedicated to management, dissemination and exploitation complete the project's structure, the results from which are designed to be readily transportable to other disease processes.

The central strategy of @neurIST is the development of vertical integration across data structures and across length scales, but horizontal integration at every level of abstraction, from access to information sources, to complex information processing, knowledge representation, structuring and fusion, all of which will cement the collaboration between the disciplines. More information is available at the @neurIST project website.

Source: Ansys

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