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Biomechanical Effect of Lumbar Disc Degeneration Under Flexion/Extension: A Finite Element Model Study

[+] Author Affiliations
Lissette M. Ruberté

University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Raghu Natarajan

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, ILUniversity of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Gunnar B. J. Andersson

Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Paper No. SBC2007-176190, pp. 355-356; 2 pages
  • ASME 2007 Summer Bioengineering Conference
  • ASME 2007 Summer Bioengineering Conference
  • Keystone, Colorado, USA, June 20–24, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Bioengineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4798-5
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a progressive pathological condition observed in 60 to 80% of the population [1]. It involves changes in both the biochemistry and morphology of the intervertebral disc and is associated with chronic low back pain, sciatica and adult scoliosis [2,3]. The most accepted theory of the effects of DDD on the kinematics of the spine is that proposed by Kirkaldy-Willis and Farfan which states that the condition initiates as a temporary dysfunction, followed by instability and then re-stabilization as the disease progresses [4]. Although there is no clear relationship between disc degeneration and the mechanical behavior of the lumbar spine, abnormal motion patterns either in the form of increased motion or erratic motion have been reported from studies on human cadaveric motion segments [5,6]. To date however no study has looked at how disc degeneration affects the adjacent segment mechanics. IN vivo testing is difficult for these purposes given that specimens are generally obtained from people at the later stages of life and consequently often display multiple pathologies. A finite element model is a viable alternative to study the mechanics of the segments adjacent to the diseased disc. It is hypothesized that moderate degeneration at one level will alter the kinematics of the whole lumbar spine.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME



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