Effects of intervertebral disk behavior on the load distribution and fracture risk of the vertebral body

H. Weinans, J.J. Homminga, W. Gowin, D. Felsenberg, H.W.J. Huiskes

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Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and an increased fracture risk. Measurements of bone mass alone, however, will not provide adequate information about the fracture risk, because the trabecular architecture or spatial distribution of the bone density has an important effect on the strength. We have developed a method to estimate the tissue strength of trabecular bone directly from 3D reconstructed axial CT-scans in combination with a finite element model. The method provides the stress distribution throughout the structure which can be used as a measure for the strength and fracture risk of the bone. A matter of concern with this method are the external loading conditions placed on the vertebral body, which might be strongly affected by the behavior of the intervertebral disk. In this study we have tested the effects of various intervertebral disk models on the load distribution through the vertebral body. A 3D model of a vertebral body was developed based on serial axial CT-scans which were converted to a 3D finite element model. The model was augmented with intervertebral disks at the upper and lower endplates. The disks contained a nucleus and an annulus region. The properties of the nucleus were varied to study the effects of a healthy disk with a functional nucleus pulposus and a degenerated disk with virtually no load bearing of the nucleus pulposus. The methods introduced in this study can be used to estimate load transfer through the vertebral body directly from CT-scans and, thereby, assessing the fracture risk of the bone and thus the status of osteoporosis
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. `Magnificent Milestones and Emerging Opportunities in Medical Engineering'
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ, USA
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISBN (Print)0780342623
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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