Mechanical testing setups affect spine segment fracture outcomes

Asghar Rezaei, Hugo Giambini, Kent D. Carlson, Hao Xu, Susheil Uthamaraj, Dan Dragomir-Daescu, Michael J. Yaszemski, Lichun Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The purpose of the work presented here was to establish an experimental testing configuration that would generate a bending compression fracture in a laboratory setting. To this end, we designed and fabricated a fixture to accommodate a three level spine segment and to be able to perform mechanical testing by applying an off-centric compressive loading to create a flexion-type motion. Forces and moments occurring during testing were measured with a six-channel load cell. The initial testing configuration (Fixture A) included plates connected to the superior potted vertebral body and to the ball-socket joint of the testing system ram. Surprisingly, while all cadaveric specimens underwent a similar off-centric compressive loading, most of the specimens showed extension outcomes as opposed to the intended pure-flexion motion. The extension was due to fixture size and weight; by applying an off-centric load directly on the top plate, unintended large shear forces were generated. To resolve the issue, several modifications were made to the original fixture configuration. These modifications included the removal of the superior plates and the implementation of wedges at the superior surface of the fixture (Fixture B). A synthetic sample was used during this modification phase to minimize the number of cadaveric specimens while optimizing the process. The best outcomes were consistently observed when a 15°-wedge was used to provide flexion-type loading. Cadaveric specimens were then experimentally tested to fracture using the modified testing configuration (Fixture B). A comparison between both fixtures, A and B, revealed that almost all biomechanical parameters, including force, moment, and displacement data, were affected by the testing setup. These results suggest that fixture design and implementation for testing is of extreme importance, and can influence the fracture properties and affect the intended motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103399
JournalJournal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Biomechanical analysis
  • Flexion bending moment
  • Mechanical testing fixture
  • Spine fracture
  • Spine motion segment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials


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