Population Models for In-Silico Clinical Trials

Within this line of research, the 'Anatomy and Embryology Research Group' focuses on the safety and efficacy of novel surgical techniques and biomedical products that, after prior laboratory and animal testing, are ultimately tested on humans via clinical trials.

The complete development chain of a new surgical technique or implant and their introduction into clinical practice and the medical market is very long and expensive. Alternative methodologies such as statistical population models for use in mechanical simulation studies are therefore needed. As such, virtual model testing can eliminate human cadaveric or animal test procedures and mitigate the burden of in-vivo human testing.

Research projects

Mechanical pathways in the onset and progression of cartilage lesions of the hip joint

This project aims to explore the impact of variation in hip joint anatomy on load distribution during daily living activities. In doing so, we intend to clarify the role of mechanical drivers in the onset and progression of cartilage lesions of the hip joint using advanced multidimensional statistics and personalized load and stress predictions.

The final step of this project is to gradually transfer these findings into clinical practice and at the operating theatre by providing virtual pre-surgical planning, accurately implemented during surgery, using state of the art navigation technology.


Computer-assisted analysis and treatment of Ankle Syndesmotic Lesions

The principal objective of this project is to explore the impact of ankle fractures associated with syndesmotic lesions on loading patterns of the tibiotalar joint at the patient-specific level. In doing so, we aim to improve the short-term outcome by optimizing pre-operative treatment planning and surgical accuracy. Long-term outcomes will be improved by elucidating clinical and mechanical risk factors for developing posttraumatic ankle osteoarthritis.


Anatomical shape variation of the lumbosacral region

In the context of this project, a 3D model is being constructed by means of statistical shape analysis. This model investigates the bony morphological variation of the pelvis and the lumbar spine. This shape variation is associated with existing clinical-mechanical parameters linked to the sagittal alignment of the spine.

This research aims to expand basic anatomical knowledge of the lumbopelvic region. It will provide the basis for a better understanding of the biomechanical implications of functional shape variations and it may help individualize conservative therapies and surgical procedures.



  • Gunther Steenackers, MSM (Antwerp University)
  • Werner De Gersem, research group Radiation Oncology
  • Louke Delrue and Eric Achten, department of Radiology, University Hospital Ghent
  • Peter Claes, Dirk Vandermeulen and Harold Matthews, department ESAT - PSI, Processing Speech and Images (KU Leuven)
  • Dominique Adriaens, department Biology, research group Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates



  • Vikas Khanduja (Cambridge, UK)
  • Bhushan Borotikar, 2D/3D (Brest, France)
  • Tinashe Mustvangwa, 2D/3D (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • N. Smith, 3D anatomy education (Bergen, Norway)
  • A. Andersson, Tissue Loading by DEA and FE models (Utah, US)



  • Emmanuel Audenaert, researcher


  • Tom Van Hoof, researcher