Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computational Modeling & Simulation Engineering


Modeling and Simulation

Committee Director

Yuzhong Shen

Committee Member

Michel Audette

Committee Member

Frederic McKenzie

Committee Member

Duc T. Nguyen


Computer-based modeling and simulation practices have become an integral part of the medical education field. For surgical simulation applications, realistic constitutive modeling of soft tissue is considered to be one of the most challenging aspects of the problem, because biomechanical soft-tissue models need to reflect the correct elastic response, have to be efficient in order to run at interactive simulation rates, and be able to support operations such as cuts and sutures.

Mesh-based solutions, where the connections between the individual degrees of freedom (DoF) are defined explicitly, have been the traditional choice to approach these problems. However, when the problem under investigation contains a discontinuity that disrupts the connectivity between the DoFs, the underlying mesh structure has to be reconfigured in order to handle the newly introduced discontinuity correctly. This reconfiguration for mesh-based techniques is typically called dynamic remeshing, and most of the time it causes the performance bottleneck in the simulation.

In this dissertation, the efficiency of point-based meshless methods is investigated for both constitutive modeling of elastic soft tissues and visualization of simulation objects, where arbitrary discontinuities/cuts are applied to the objects in the context of surgical simulation. The point-based deformable object modeling problem is examined in three functional aspects: modeling continuous elastic deformations with, handling discontinuities in, and visualizing a point-based object. Algorithmic and implementation details of the presented techniques are discussed in the dissertation. The presented point-based techniques are implemented as separate components and integrated into the open-source software framework SOFA.

The presented meshless continuum mechanics model of elastic tissue were verified by comparing it to the Hertzian non-adhesive frictionless contact theory. Virtual experiments were setup with a point-based deformable block and a rigid indenter, and force-displacement curves obtained from the virtual experiments were compared to the theoretical solutions.

The meshless mechanics model of soft tissue and the integrated novel discontinuity treatment technique discussed in this dissertation allows handling cuts of arbitrary shape. The implemented enrichment technique not only modifies the internal mechanics of the soft tissue model, but also updates the point-based visual representation in an efficient way preventing the use of costly dynamic remeshing operations.