The internal mechanical properties of cervical intervertebral discs as revealed by stress profilometry

DM Skrzypiec, P Pollintine, AS Przybyla, P Dolan, MA Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

45 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Extensive anatomical differences suggest that cervical and lumbar discs may have functional differences also. We investigated human cervical discs using “stress profilometry”. Forty-six cadaveric cervical motion segments aged 48-90 years were subjected to a compressive load of 200 N for 20 s, while compressive ‘stress’ was recorded along the posterior-anterior midline of the disc using a pressure transducer, side-mounted in a 0.9 mm diameter needle. Stress profiles were repeated with the transducer orientated horizontally and vertically, and with the specimen in neutral, flexed and extended postures. Profiles were repeated again following creep loading (150 N, 2 h) which simulated diurnal water loss in vivo. Stress profiles were reproducible, and measured “stress” at each location was proportional to applied load. Stress profiles usually showed a hydrostatic nucleus with regions of higher compressive stress concentrated anteriorly in flexion, and posteriorly in extension. Stress concentrations increased in degenerated discs and following creep. Some features were unique to cervical discs: many showed a stress gradient across their central regions, even though vertical and horizontal stresses were equal to each other, and stress concentrations in the posterior annulus were generally small. Central regions of many cervical discs show the characteristics of a “tethered fluid” which can equalise stress over small distances, but not large. This may be attributable to their fibrous texture. The small radial diameter of the cervical posterior annulus may facilitate buckling and thereby prevent it from sustaining high compressive stresses.
Translated title of the contributionThe internal mechanical properties of cervical intervertebral discs as revealed by stress profilometry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1701 - 1709
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Volume16(10)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007

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