The Effect of Degeneration on Internal Strains and the Mechanism of Failure in Human Intervertebral Discs Analyzed Using Digital Volume Correlation (DVC) and Ultra-High Field MRI

Saman Tavana, Spyros D. Masouros, Nicoleta Baxan, Brett A. Freedman, Ulrich N. Hansen, Nicolas Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The intervertebral disc (IVD) plays a main role in absorbing and transmitting loads within the spinal column. Degeneration alters the structural integrity of the IVDs and causes pain, especially in the lumbar region. The objective of this study was to investigate non-invasively the effect of degeneration on human 3D lumbar IVD strains (n = 8) and the mechanism of spinal failure (n = 10) under pure axial compression using digital volume correlation (DVC) and 9.4 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Degenerate IVDs had higher (p < 0.05) axial strains (58% higher), maximum 3D compressive strains (43% higher), and maximum 3D shear strains (41% higher), in comparison to the non-degenerate IVDs, particularly in the lateral and posterior annulus. In both degenerate and non-degenerate IVDs, peak tensile and shear strains were observed close to the endplates. Inward bulging of the inner annulus was observed in all degenerate IVDs causing an increase in the AF compressive, tensile, and shear strains at the site of inward bulge, which may predispose it to circumferential tears (delamination). The endplate is the spine's “weak link” in pure axial compression, and the mechanism of human vertebral fracture is associated with disc degeneration. In non-degenerate IVDs the locations of failure were close to the endplate centroid, whereas in degenerate IVDs they were in peripheral regions. These findings advance the state of knowledge on mechanical changes during degeneration of the IVD, which help reduce the risk of injury, optimize treatments, and improve spinal implant designs. Additionally, these new data can be used to validate computational models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number610907
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 21 2021

Keywords

  • digital volume correlation (DVC)
  • disc degeneration
  • endplate fracture
  • internal 3D strain
  • intervertebral disc (IVD)
  • magnetic resonace imaging (MRI)
  • vertebral fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering

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