What is medical simulation?

In vivo, in vitro, in silico – Medicine is changing and with the help of in silico medical simulation has the potential to become an important part of clinical practice. 

in silico characterizes reactions or processes that take place in computer simulation using special programs or algorithms. The term in silico (in silicon) originated because nowadays most computer chips are manufactured based on the chemical element silicon.

By the term medical simulation we mean the simulation of complex biomechanical and physiological processes with the aim of supporting medical interventions. This can be done by improved diagnosis, by training on a simulator or by simulation and “virtual testing” of surgical interventions – patient-specific with the help of a digital twin. In addition, medical simulation helps in the preliminary stages of medical research through improved understanding of physiological processes.

Why do we need medical simulation / What are the benefits of simulation in medicine?

Through medical simulation, physicians, surgeons, medical professionals and medical device manufacturers gain access to previously untapped information that you can incorporate into product development, diagnosis and therapy for your benefit and that of patients.

Medical simulation supports cross-domain ideas and approaches to extend and sustainably improve existing procedures or process chains with the help of simulation. Consequently, more innovative treatment methods emerge. 

Medical device manufacturers are always under the obligation to prove the efficacy and safety of a product in a physiological and pathological variety of a target population. This is done in complex and lengthy trials and clinical testing on thousands of probands. If a medical device fails at this stage, the financial losses can be catastrophic and the product does not reach the market. 

By using medical simulation, in-silico clinical trials can be developed and conducted on virtual patients more quickly – without any risk to subjects and minimized risk and cost for manufacturers. 

Testing medical devices in digital patients enables more experiments and clinical trials can be expanded in a targeted manner. This also increases product safety through medical simulation, since, for instance, even extreme conditions can be tested virtually with simulation without concern. At the same time, this makes it possible to drastically reduce costly animal and human testing in the future. 

Consequently, with the help of medical simulation, the time to market of a medical product can often be shortened by years and at the same time companies can reduce their R&D costs. As a result, medical simulation enables a higher ROI than traditional cycles of design, testing and clinical trials.

At the same time, the use of virtual patients and medical simulation software can simplify the technical documentation of medical devices.

How do CADFEM Medical’s solutions work for medical simulation?

Our medical software solutions are all based on our docq CORE platform, which enables physicians and medical professionals to use state-of-the-art Ansys simulation technologies without the need for extensive computer-aided engineering (CAE) skills and specialized hardware. The docq CORE platform is developed according to the standards for medical devices (EN ISO 13485 / IEC 62304).

As a medical software company, we convert specific medical issues of medical device manufacturers, physicians or surgeons into docq software modules. The modules work as a stand-alone product together with the docq CORE platform. This way, companies and startups that rely on medical software can benefit from our proven platform in the future and implement their ideas easily and faster.  

To make medical simulation even more scalable and accessible to a wide audience, we are also working on some SaaS solutions. This will enable us to further our mission of “transferring simulation technologies to healthcare” to support the best possible patient care as well.

In which areas of medicine is medical simulation already used? What solutions based on medical simulation does CADFEM Medical have?

CADFEM Medical is committed to the standardization and broader application of in silico medicine as part of the Avicenna Alliance to ensure safe, affordable and cost-effective healthcare. As a pioneer of in silico medicine, we already have several hands-on examples and software solutions for medical simulation:

  • docq AAA: simulating the strength of bulging arteries (aneurysms) to better assess risks of life-threatening rupture of such aneurysms. 
  • docq OSA is still under development, but is already a very good example of what medical simulation is capable of. docq OSA supports the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with computational fluid dynamics and fluid-structure interaction. With docq OSA, it is possible to visualize the characteristics of the upper airway using state-of-the-art simulation and determine the mechanical causes and range of a patient’s breathing problems.
  • docq RPE is a medical software for surgical planning of a so-called forced palatal expansion. It calculates the optimal incision pattern to ensure a symmetrical face after and during forced widening of the maxilla. With the generated suggested incision pattern, the surgeon can be assured of near-perfect quality patient care and the best surgical outcome. Due to the shorter incisions during surgery and the blood vessels that remain as a result, there is less trauma to the patient with this surgical approach.
  • docq VIT supports digital verification of patient-specific implants (PSI’s). The software supports implant designers and doctors to quickly and efficiently verify the performance and safety of implants against objective criteria by virtually applying physiological or standardized loads to a patient-specific situation.

Challenges of medical simulation

The integration of medical simulation among medical device manufacturers, clinicians, and medical professionals is another critical step in advancing the concept of personalized medicine. However, in many cases, challenges in medical simulation are still open research questions. Difficulties here include the individually very different physiological characteristics, which can often only be measured to a very limited extent, and the multitude of factors and interdependent processes on many different space and time scales. 

In addition, a key challenge in medical simulation is the geometry preparation from medical image data of e.g. computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and the subsequent transformation of these geometries into suitable models for numerical simulation. 

However, with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML & AI), medical simulation is constantly improving and finding broader and broader application scenarios.

Why is CADFEM Medical the right partner for me when it comes to medical simulation?

We have set ourselves a big goal: To improve patient care in the long term with our products and services. 

As a corporate startup, we benefit in the implementation of medical simulation from our parent company CADFEM GmbH and strong strategic partners such as the global market leader Ansys, who support us with over 50 years of experience and know-how from the simulation world in various industries.  

Thus, we at CADFEM Medical combine the necessary expertise and passion for a topic that will permanently change medicine: The use of medical simulation in healthcare to detect diseases, improve therapies and increase product safety.