Novel bone surrogates for cranial surgery training

Marianne Hollensteiner, David Fürst, Benjamin Esterer, Peter Augat, Falk Schrödl, Stefan Hunger, Michael Malek, Daniel Stephan, Andreas Schrempf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Parietal graft lifts are trained on human or animal specimens or are directly performed on patients without extensive training. In order to prevent harm to the patient resulting from fast rotating machinery tools, the surgeon needs to apply appropriate forces. Realistic haptics are essential to identify the varying parietal bone layers and to avoid a penetration of the brain. This however, requires experience and training. Therefore, in this study, bone surrogate materials were evaluated with the aim to provide an anatomically correct artificial skull cap with realistic haptic feedback for graft lift training procedures. Polyurethane composites made of calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate were developed and were used to create customized bone surrogates, imitating both cancellous and cortical bone. Mechanical properties of these surrogates were validated for drilling, milling and sawing by comparison with human parietal bones. For that, surgical tool tips were automatically inserted into artificial and human bones in a customized test bench and the maximum axial insertion forces were analyzed. Axial tool insertion measurements in human parietal bones resulted in mean maximum forces of 1.8±0.5 N for drilling, 1.7±0.3 N for milling and 0.9±0.1 N for sawing. Calcium carbonate-based materials achieved higher forces than the human bone for drilling and milling, and lower forces for sawing. The calcium phosphate-based bone surrogates showed comparable axial insertions forces for all investigated tools and were identified as a suitable surrogate for drilling (p=0.87 and 0.41), milling (p=0.92 and 0.63) and sawing (p=0.11 and 0.76) of the cortical layer and the cancellous bone, respectively. In conclusion, our findings suggest, that a suitable material composition for artificial parietal bones has been identified, mimicking the properties of human bone during surgical machinery procedures. Thus, these materials are suitable for surgical training and education in simulator training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-51
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Artificial bones
  • Biomechanics
  • Drilling
  • Milling
  • Sawing
  • Simulator
  • Polyurethanes/chemistry
  • Orthopedics/methods
  • Simulation Training
  • Humans
  • General Surgery/methods
  • Feedback
  • Mechanical Phenomena
  • Skull/surgery


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