A challenging problem in dental implant surgery is to evaluate the stability of the implant. In this simulation study, an experimental phantom is used to represent a jawbone with a dental implant. It is made of a little pool filled with soft-tissue equivalent material and a disc of fresh Oakwood with a metal screw. Varying levels of contact between screw and wood are simulated by screwing in or out the screw. Initially, the screw is screwed in and fixed firmly in wood. Thereafter, the screw is screwed out, a half turn each time, to increase the gap gradually between wood and screw. Pulse-echo ultrasound is used and the power spectra of the received echo-signals are computed. These spectra are normalized then analyzed by using the partial least squares method to estimate the corresponding implant stiffness grade in terms of number of turns when beginning from the initial tight-screw state then screwing out the screw. A coefficient of determination R2 of 96.4% and a mean absolute error of ±0.23 turns are achieved when comparing real and estimated values of stiffness grades, indicating the efficiency of this approach.
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