Publications by authors named "Albert J van der Veen"

40 Publications

Biomechanical effects of a titanium intervertebral cage as a stand-alone device, and in combination with locking plates in the canine caudal cervical spine.

Vet Surg 2021 May 6. Epub 2021 May 6.

Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Objective: To evaluate the change in ex vivo biomechanical properties of the canine cervical spine, due to an intervertebral cage, both as a stand-alone device and in combination with plates.

Study Design: Experimental ex vivo study.

Animals: Cervical spinal segments (C5-C7) from eight canine cadavers.

Methods: The range of motion (ROM) and elastic zone stiffness (EZS) of the spines were determined with a four-point bending device in flexion/extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation for four conditions: native, discectomy, cage (at C6-C7), and cage with plates (at C6-C7). The disc height index (DHI) for each condition was determined using radiography.

Results: Discectomy resulted in overall increased ROM (p < .01) and EZS (p < .05) and decreased DHI (p < .005) when compared to the native condition. Placement of the cage increased DHI (p < .001) and restored total ROM during flexion/extension, lateral bending and axial rotation, and EZS during flexion/extension to the level of the native spine. Application of the plates further reduced the total ROM during flexion/extension (p < .001) and lateral bending (p < .001), but restored ROM in extension and EZS during lateral bending. No implant failure, subsidence, or significant cage migration occurred during loading.

Conclusion: An anchorless intervertebral cage used as a stand-alone device was able to restore the disc height and spinal stability to the level of the native cervical spine, whereas the addition of plates further reduced the spinal unit mobility.

Clinical Significance: This study implies that the intervertebral cage may be used as a stand-alone device in the spinal unit fixation in the canine cervical spine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/vsu.13657DOI Listing
May 2021

Mechanical stress regulates bone regulatory gene expression independent of estrogen and vitamin D deficiency in rats.

J Orthop Res 2021 01 21;39(1):42-52. Epub 2020 Jul 21.

Department of Clinical Chemistry, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Mechanical stress determines bone mass and structure. It is not known whether mechanical loading affects expression of bone regulatory genes in a combined deficiency of estrogen and vitamin D. We studied the effect of mechanical loading on the messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of bone regulatory genes during vitamin D and/or estrogen deficiency. We performed a single bout in vivo axial loading with 14 N peak load, 2 Hz frequency and 360 cycles in right ulnae of nineteen weeks old female control Wistar rats with or without ovariectomy (OVX), vitamin D deficiency and the combination of OVX and vitamin D deficiency (N = 10/group). Total bone RNA was isolated 6 hours after loading, and mRNA expression was detected of Mepe, Fgf23, Dmp1, Phex, Sost, Col1a1, Cyp27b1, Vdr, and Esr1. Serum levels of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH) D and estradiol were also measured at this time point. The effect of loading, vitamin D and estrogen deficiency and their interaction on bone gene expression was tested using a mixed effect model analysis. Mechanical loading significantly increased the mRNA expression of Mepe, and Sost, whereas it decreased the mRNA expression of Fgf23 and Esr1. Mechanical loading showed a significant interaction with vitamin D deficiency with regard to mRNA expression of Vdr and Esr1. Mechanical loading affected gene expression of Mepe, Fgf23, Sost, and Esr1 independently of vitamin D or estrogen, indicating that mechanical loading may affect bone turnover even during vitamin D deficiency and after menopause.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jor.24775DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7818391PMC
January 2021

The Influence of Radiotherapy on the Mechanical Properties of Silicone Breast Implants.

Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open 2018 Jul 13;6(7):e1772. Epub 2018 Jul 13.

Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: Silicone breast implants have been used for decades for cosmetic breast augmentation or reconstruction after mastectomy. In selected cases, postmastectomy adjuvant radiotherapy is given with the breast implants in situ. Previous clinical studies have shown that radiotherapy may lead to complications such as capsular contracture and infection and that removal of the implant may be required. Yet, the effect of radiotherapy on silicone breast implants themselves is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate if irradiation of breast implants influences their mechanical properties.

Methods: This was an ex vivo study on 32 ready-to-use silicone breast implants (Mentor and Silimed). Half of the implants of each brand were irradiated with 1 × 60 Gy, the other half were not irradiated. Tensile, mechanical hysteresis, and rheology tests were performed. Differences in mechanical properties between the irradiated and nonirradiated implants were determined.

Results: No significant differences were found in tensile strength, mechanical hysteresis, and rheological properties between irradiated and nonirradiated implants.

Conclusions: Breast implants' mechanical properties for these 2 brands were not significantly affected after single-dose irradiation in an ex vivo setting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/GOX.0000000000001772DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6110667PMC
July 2018

Comparison of polyetheretherketone versus silicon nitride intervertebral spinal spacers in a caprine model.

J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater 2019 04 9;107(3):688-699. Epub 2018 Aug 9.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Clinical Orthopedic Research Center midden-Nederland (CORCmN), Diakonessenhuis, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) is commonly used as a spinal spacer for intervertebral fusion surgery. Unfortunately, PEEK is bioinert and does not effectively osseointegrate into living bone. In contrast, comparable spacers made of silicon nitride (Si N ) possess a surface nanostructure and chemistry that encourage appositional bone healing. This observational study was designed to compare the outcomes of these two biomaterials when implanted as spacers in an adult caprine model. Lumbar interbody fusion surgeries were performed at two adjacent levels in eight adult goats using implants of PEEK and Si N . At six-months after surgery, the operative and adjacent spinal segments were extracted and measured for bone fusion, bone volume, bone-implant contact (BIC) and soft-tissue implant contact (SIC) ratios, and biodynamic stability. The null hypothesis was that no differences in these parameters would be apparent between the two groups. Fusion was observed in seven of eight implants in each group with greater bone formation in the Si N group (52.6%) versus PEEK (27.9%; p = 0.2). There were no significant differences in BIC ratios between PEEK and Si N , and the biodynamic stability of the two groups was also comparable. The results suggest that Si N spacers are not inferior to PEEK and they may be more effective in promoting arthrodesis. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater 00B: 000-000, 2018. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part B: Appl Biomater 107B: 688-699, 2019.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbm.b.34162DOI Listing
April 2019

Changes in Intervertebral Disk Mechanical Behavior During Early Degeneration.

J Biomech Eng 2018 09;140(9)

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam 1105 AZ, The Netherlands.

Intervertebral disk (IVD) degeneration is commonly described by loss of height and hydration. However, in the first stage of IVD degeneration, this loss has not yet occurred. In the current study, we use an ex vivo degeneration model to analyze the changes in IVDs mechanical behavior in the first phase of degeneration. We characterize these changes by stretched-exponential fitting, and suggest the fitted parameters as markers for early degeneration. Enzymatic degeneration of healthy lumbar caprine IVDs was induced by injecting 100 μL of Chondroïtinase ABC (Cabc) into the nucleus. A no-intervention and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) injected group were used as controls. IVDs were cultured in a bioreactor for 20 days under diurnal, simulated-physiological loading (SPL) conditions. Disk deformation was continuously monitored. Changes in disk height recovery behavior were quantified using stretched-exponential fitting. Disk height, histological sections, and water- and glycosaminoglycan (GAG)-content measurements were used as gold standards for the degenerative state. Cabc injection caused significant GAG loss from the nucleus and had detrimental effects on poro-elastic mechanical properties of the IVDs. These were progressive over time, with a propensity toward more linear recovery behavior. On histological sections, both PBS and Cabc injected IVDs showed moderate degeneration. A small GAG loss yields changes in IVD recovery behavior, which can be quantified with stretched-exponential fitting. Parameters changed significantly compared to control. Studies on disk degeneration and biomaterial engineering for degenerative disk disease (DDD) could benefit from focusing on IVD biomechanical behavior rather than height and water-content, as a marker for early disk degeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1115/1.4039890DOI Listing
September 2018

Coupled motions in human and porcine thoracic and lumbar spines.

J Biomech 2018 03 6;70:51-58. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

Dept. of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Coupled motions, i.e., motions along axes other than the loaded axis, have been reported to occur in the human spine, and are likely to be influenced by inclined local axes due to the sagittal plane spine curvature. Furthermore, the role of facet joints in such motions is as yet unclear. Therefore, this study aimed at assessing coupled motions in multiple spine sections in vitro, before and after removal of posterior elements. Six elderly human and 6 young porcine spines were sectioned in four segments (high thoracic, mid thoracic, low thoracic and lumbar), each consisting of four vertebrae and three intervertebral discs. Segments were loaded along each of the three axes, and three-dimensional rotations of the middle segment were quantified. Subsequently, posterior elements were removed and the protocol was repeated. To avoid mixed loading between Axial Rotation (AR) and Lateral Bending (LB), in contrast to other studies, local axes at the vertebrae were defined as aligned with the loading device prior to each load application. Expressed as a percentage of motion in the loaded direction, coupled motions were on average larger in human (22.7%, SD = 2.2%) than in porcine (11.9%, SD = 1.2%) spines (p < .001). Largest coupled motions were obtained in AR loading of the lumbar spine segments, with mean magnitudes averaged over coupling axes for human L2-L3 joints of 48.9% (SD = 13.2%), including somewhat more LB (56.4%, SD = 18.6) than FE (41.4%, SD = 14.1%) coupling. For porcine L3-L4 joints average coupling in AR loading was 29.3% (SD = 8.2%). In human segments removal of posterior elements only had substantial effects in the lumbar spine segments, where posterior element removal decreased coupled motion during AR loading, averaged over LB and FE coupling, from 48.9% (SD = 13.2%) to 27.7% (SD = 6.1%), mainly through increased motion in the loaded direction. The present results indicate that coupled motions were largest in the lumbar spine. In human spines, posterior elements only contributed to coupled motions in lumbar axial rotation loading.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.11.034DOI Listing
March 2018

Osmosis and viscoelasticity both contribute to time-dependent behaviour of the intervertebral disc under compressive load: A caprine in vitro study.

J Biomech 2018 03 25;70:10-15. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

The mechanical behaviour of the intervertebral disc highly depends on the content and transport of interstitial fluid. It is unknown, however, to what extent the time-dependent behaviour can be attributed to osmosis. Here we investigate the effect of both mechanical and osmotic loading on water content, nucleus pressure and disc height. Eight goat intervertebral discs, immersed in physiological saline, were subjected to a compressive force with a pressure needle inserted in the nucleus. The loading protocol was: 10 N (6 h); 150 N (42 h); 10 N (24 h). Half-way the 150 N-phase (24 h), we eliminated the osmotic gradient by adding 26% poly-ethylene glycol to the surrounding fluid. For 62 additional discs, we determined the water content of both nucleus and annulus after 6, 24, 48, or 72 h. The compressive load was initially counterbalanced by the hydrostatic pressure in the nucleus. The load forced 4.3% of the water out of the nucleus, which reduced nucleus pressure by 44(±6)%. Reduction of the osmotic gradient disturbed the equilibrium disc height, and a significant loss of annulus water content was found. Remarkably, pressure and water content of the nucleus pulposus remained unchanged. This shows that annulus water content is important in the response to axial loading. After unloading, in the absence of an osmotic gradient, there was substantial viscoelastic recovery of 53(±11)% of the disc height, without a change in water content. However, for restoration of the nucleus pressure and for full restoration of disc height, restoration of the osmotic gradient was needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.10.010DOI Listing
March 2018

3D-printing zirconia implants; a dream or a reality? An in-vitro study evaluating the dimensional accuracy, surface topography and mechanical properties of printed zirconia implant and discs.

J Mech Behav Biomed Mater 2017 11 16;75:521-528. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Department of Oral Implantology and Prosthetic Dentistry, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Prosthetic Dental Science Department, College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Electronic address:

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the dimensional accuracy, surface topography of a custom designed, 3D-printed zirconia dental implant and the mechanical properties of printed zirconia discs.

Materials And Methods: A custom designed implant was 3D-printed in zirconia using digital light processing technique (DLP). The dimensional accuracy was assessed using the digital-subtraction technique. The mechanical properties were evaluated using biaxial flexure strength test. Three different build angles were adopted to print the specimens for the mechanical test; 0°(Vertical), 45° (Oblique) and 90°(Horizontal) angles. The surface topography, crystallographic phase structure and surface roughness were evaluated using scanning electron microscopy analysis (SEM), X-ray diffractometer and confocal microscopy respectively.

Results: The printed implant was dimensionally accurate with a root mean square (RMSE) value of 0.1mm. The Weibull analysis revealed a statistically significant higher characteristic strength (1006.6MPa) of 0° printed specimens compared to the other two groups and no significant difference between 45° (892.2MPa) and 90° (866.7MPa) build angles. SEM analysis revealed cracks, micro-porosities and interconnected pores ranging in size from 196nm to 3.3µm. The mean Ra (arithmetic mean roughness) value of 1.59µm (±0.41) and Rq (root mean squared roughness) value of 1.94µm (±0.47) was found. A crystallographic phase of primarily tetragonal zirconia typical of sintered Yttria tetragonal stabilized zirconia (Y-TZP) was detected.

Conclusions: DLP prove to be efficient for printing customized zirconia dental implants with sufficient dimensional accuracy. The mechanical properties showed flexure strength close to those of conventionally produced ceramics. Optimization of the 3D-printing process parameters is still needed to improve the microstructure of the printed objects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jmbbm.2017.08.018DOI Listing
November 2017

A Novel Spinal Implant for Fusionless Scoliosis Correction: A Biomechanical Analysis of the Motion Preserving Properties of a Posterior Periapical Concave Distraction Device.

Global Spine J 2017 Aug 7;7(5):400-409. Epub 2017 Apr 7.

Department of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Study Design: Biomechanical study.

Objective: Recently, a posterior concave periapical distraction device for fusionless scoliosis correction was introduced. The goal of this study was to quantify the effect of the periapical distraction device on spinal range of motion (ROM) in comparison with traditional rigid pedicle screw-rod instrumentation.

Methods: Using a spinal motion simulator, 6 human spines were loaded with 4 N m and 6 porcine spines with 2 N m to induce flexion-extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). ROM was measured in 3 conditions: untreated, periapical distraction device, and rigid pedicle screw-rod instrumentation.

Results: The periapical distraction device caused a significant ( < .05) decrease in ROM of FE (human, -40.0% and porcine, -55.9%) and LB (human, -18.2% and porcine, -17.9%) as compared to the untreated spine, while ROM of AR remained unaffected. In comparison, rigid instrumentation caused a significantly ( < .05) larger decrease in ROM of FE (human, -80.9% and porcine, -94.0%), LB (human, -75.0% and porcine, -92.2%), and AR (human, -71.3% and porcine, -86.9%).

Conclusions: Although no destructive forces were applied, no device failures were observed. Spinal ROM was significantly less constrained by the periapical distraction device compared to rigid pedicle screw-rod instrumentation. Therefore, provided that scoliosis correction is achieved, a more physiological spinal motion is expected after scoliosis correction with the posterior concave periapical distraction device.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2192568217699377DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544155PMC
August 2017

Spinal biomechanical properties are significantly altered with a novel embalming method.

J Biomech 2017 04 21;55:144-146. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Department of Physics and Medical Technology, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1118, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In vitro tests on the biomechanical properties of human spines are often performed using fresh frozen specimens. However, this carries the risk of pathogen transfer from specimen to the worker and the specimens can only be used for a limited amount of time. Human spinal specimens embalmed with formaldehyde carry an almost absent risk of transfer of pathogens and can be stored and used for a long time, but the tissue properties are strongly affected making this method inapplicable for biomechanical testing. In this study, a new embalming technique called Fix for Life (F4L), which claims to preserve the tissue properties, was tested. The range of motion (ROM) and stiffness of six fresh human spinal specimens was measured using a spinal motion simulator before and after F4L embalming. After F4L embalming, spinal stiffness increased in flexion-extension by 230%, in lateral bending by 284% and in axial rotation by 271%. ROM decreased by 46% in flexion-extension, 56% in lateral bending and 54% in axial rotation. In conclusion, based on this study, F4L does not maintain physiological spinal biomechanical properties, and we propose that this method should not be used for biomechanical studies. Nevertheless, the method may be an alternative to formaldehyde fixation in situations such as training and education because the effect on spinal biomechanics is less detrimental than formaldehyde and tissue color is maintained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2017.02.012DOI Listing
April 2017

The poro-elastic behaviour of the intervertebral disc: A new perspective on diurnal fluid flow.

J Biomech 2016 Apr 28;49(6):857-863. Epub 2015 Nov 28.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands; MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Diurnal disc height changes, due to fluid in- and outflow, are in equilibrium while daytime spinal loading is twice as long as night time rest. A direction-dependent permeability of the endplates, favouring inflow over outflow, reportedly explains this; however, fluid flow through the annulus fibrosus should be considered. This study investigates the fluid flow of entire intervertebral discs. Caprine discs were preloaded in saline for 24h under four levels of static load. Under sustained load, we modulated the disc׳s swelling pressure by exchanging saline for demineralised water (inflow) and back to saline (outflow), both for 24h. We measured disc height creep and used stretched exponential models to determine time-constants. During inflow disc height increased in relation to applied load, and during outflow disc height decreased to preload levels. When comparing in- and outflow phases, there was no difference in creep, and time-constants were similar indicating no direction-dependent resistance to fluid flow in the entire intervertebral disc. Results provoked a new hypothesis for diurnal fluid flow: in vitro time-constants for loading are shorter than for unloading and in vivo daytime loading is twice as long as night time unloading, i.e. in diurnal loading the intervertebral disc is closer to loading equilibrium than to unloading equilibrium. Per definition, fluid flow is slower close to equilibrium than far from equilibrium; therefore, as diurnal loading occurs closer to loading equilibrium, fluid inflow during night time unloading can balance fluid outflow during daytime loading, despite a longer time-constant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.11.041DOI Listing
April 2016

Intradiscal pressure measurements: A challenge or a routine?

J Biomech 2016 Apr 30;49(6):864-868. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Intradiscal pressure (IDP) is an essential biomechanical parameter and has been the subject of numerous in vivo and in vitro investigations. Although currently available sensors differ in size and measurement principles, no data exist regarding inter-sensor reliability in measuring IDP. Moreover, although discs of various species vary significantly in size and mechanics, the possible effects of sensor insertion on the IDP have never been investigated. The present in vitro study aimed to address these issues. The synchronized signals of two differently sized pressure transducers (Ø1.33 and Ø0.36 mm) obtained during the measurements in two species (bovine and caprine) and their influence on the measured pressure were compared. First, the discs were subjected to three loading periods, and the pressure was measured simultaneously to assess the inter-sensor reliability. In the second test, the effect of the sensor size was evaluated by alternatingly inserting one transducer into the disc while recording the resulting pressure change with the second transducer. Although both sensors yielded similar pressure values (ICC: consistency: 0.964-0.999; absolute agreement: 0.845-0.996) when used simultaneously, the sensor size was determined to influence the measured pressure during the insertion tests. The magnitude of the effect differed between species; it was insignificant in the bovine specimens but significant in the caprine specimens, with a pressure increase of 0.31-0.64 MPa (median: 0.43 MPa) obtained when the larger sensor was inserted. The results suggest that sensor selection for IDP measurements requires special attention and can be crucial for species with smaller disc sizes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2015.11.011DOI Listing
April 2016

How Does Spinal Release and Ponte Osteotomy Improve Spinal Flexibility? The Law of Diminishing Returns.

Spine Deform 2015 Sep 2;3(5):489-495. Epub 2015 Oct 2.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Study Design: Experimental study.

Objectives: To evaluate the effect of stepwise resection of posterior spinal ligaments, facet joints, and ribs on thoracic spinal flexibility.

Summary Of Background Data: Posterior spinal ligaments, facet joints and ribs are removed to increase spinal flexibility in corrective spinal surgery for deformities such as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Reported clinical results vary and biomechanical substantiation is lacking.

Methods: Ten fresh-frozen human cadaveric thoracic spinal specimens (T6-T11) were studied. A spinal motion simulator applied a pure moment of ±2.5 Nm in flexion, extension, lateral bending (LB) and axial rotation (AR). Range of motion (ROM) was measured for the intact spine and measured again after stepwise resection of the supra/interspinous ligament (SIL), inferior facet, flaval ligament, superior facet, and rib heads.

Results: SIL resection increased ROM in flexion (10.2%) and AR (3.1%). Successive inferior facetectomy increased ROM in flexion (4.1%), LB (3.8%) and AR (7.7%), and flavectomy in flexion (9.1%) and AR (2.5%). Sequential superior facetectomy only increased ROM in flexion (6.3%). Rib removal provided an additional increase in flexion (6.3%), LB (4.5%) and AR (13.0%). Extension ROM increased by 10.5% after the combined removal of the SIL, inferior facet and flaval ligament.

Conclusions: Posterior spinal releases in these non-scoliotic spines led to an incremental increase in spinal flexibility, but each sequential step had less effect. As compared to SIL resection with inferior facetectomy, additional superior facetectomy did not improve flexibility in AR and LB and only 6.3% in flexion. The data presented from this in vitro study should be interpreted with care, as no representative cadaveric spine model for AIS was available, However, the results presented here at least question the benefits of performing routine complete facetectomies (i.e. Ponte osteotomies) to increase spinal flexibility in scoliosis surgery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jspd.2015.03.006DOI Listing
September 2015

Range of Motion in Segmental Versus Nonsegmental Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene Sublaminar Wire Growth Guidance Type Constructs for Early-Onset Scoliosis Correction.

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2015 Dec;40(23):E1212-8

*Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research School CAPHRI, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands †Department of Orthopedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ‡Orthopedic Biomechanics, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Study Design: An in vitro biomechanical study in porcine thoracic spine segments comparing range of motion (ROM) in segmental versus multiple nonsegmental ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) sublaminar wire constructs.

Objective: To determine the effect of varying instrumentation (wire) density in an UHMWPE sublaminar wire construct for patients with early-onset scoliosis (EOS) to find an optimal wire density, which allows maximum growth whereas still providing adequate correction and fixation.

Summary Of Background Data: UHMWPE sublaminar wires in a segmental construct did not negatively affect longitudinal spinal growth during a 24-week period in an ovine model; application in growth guidance system for EOS may therefore be feasible. To avoid ectopic bone formation as much as possible, a reduction of instrumented levels, without affecting spinal stabilization, is desirable.

Methods: ROM of 9 porcine thoracic spines (T6-T14) was determined in flexion/extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation up to ± 4 Nm. Tests were performed for the uninstrumented spine in a segmental construct with UHMWPE sublaminar wires and dual pedicle screws at the most caudal level, and in four nonsegmental constructs that were attained by stepwise removal of the most caudal wire.

Results: Segmental instrumentation led to a decrease in total ROM by approximately 70% for both FE and LB. A stepwise increase in ROM with decreasing number of consecutively instrumented levels was most clearly observed in LB. However, consistent significant but also relevant substantial differences in ROM for both FE and LB were noted only when comparing two and one consecutively instrumented end levels (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: A construct with two consecutive end levels instrumented with UHMWPE sublaminar wires seems to provide the best balance between spinal stabilization and minimizing the number of instrumented levels and thereby surgical exposure, which is crucial for allowing longitudinal growth.

Level Of Evidence: N/A.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0000000000001078DOI Listing
December 2015

The effects of single-level instrumented lumbar laminectomy on adjacent spinal biomechanics.

Global Spine J 2015 Feb 6;5(1):39-48. Epub 2014 Nov 6.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Study Design Biomechanical study. Objective Posterior instrumentation is used to stabilize the spine after a lumbar laminectomy. However, the effects on the adjacent segmental stability are unknown. Therefore, we studied the range of motion (ROM) and stiffness of treated lumbar spinal segments and cranial segments after a laminectomy and after posterior instrumentation in flexion and extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). These outcomes might help to better understand adjacent segment disease (ASD), which is reported cranial to the level on which posterior instrumentation is applied. Methods We obtained 12 cadaveric human lumbar spines. Spines were axially loaded with 250 N for 1 hour. Thereafter, 10 consecutive load cycles (4 Nm) were applied in FE, LB, and AR. Subsequently, a laminectomy was performed either at L2 or at L4. Thereafter, load-deformation tests were repeated, after similar preloading. Finally, posterior instrumentation was added to the level treated with a laminectomy before testing was repeated. The ROM and stiffness of the treated, the cranial adjacent, and the control segments were calculated from the load-displacement data. Repeated-measures analyses of variance used the spinal level as the between-subject factor and a laminectomy or instrumentation as the within-subject factors. Results After the laminectomy, the ROM increased (+19.4%) and the stiffness decreased (-18.0%) in AR. The ROM in AR of the adjacent segments also increased (+11.0%). The ROM of treated segments after instrumentation decreased in FE (-74.3%), LB (-71.6%), and AR (-59.8%). In the adjacent segments after instrumentation, only the ROM in LB was changed (-12.9%). Conclusions The present findings do not substantiate a biomechanical pathway toward or explanation for ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0034-1395783DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303474PMC
February 2015

Intradiscal pressure depends on recent loading and correlates with disc height and compressive stiffness.

Eur Spine J 2014 Nov 17;23(11):2359-68. Epub 2014 Jul 17.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, MOVE Research Institute Amsterdam, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, PO box 7057, 1007 MB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

Purpose: Intervertebral discs exhibit time-dependent deformation (creep), which could influence the relation between applied stress and intradiscal pressure. This study investigates the effect of prolonged dynamic loading on intradiscal pressure, disc height and compressive stiffness, and examines their mutual relationships.

Methods: Fifteen caprine lumbar discs with 5 mm of vertebral bone on either side were compressed by 1 Hz sinusoidal load for 4.5 h. After preload, 'High' (130 ± 20 N) or 'Low' (50 ± 10 N) loads were alternated every half hour. Continuous intradiscal pressure measurement was performed with a pressure transducer needle.

Results: Each disc showed a linear relationship between axial compression and intradiscal pressure (R (2) > 0.91). The intercept of linear regression analysis declined over time, but the gradient remained constant. Disc height changes were correlated to intradiscal pressure changes (R (2) > 0.98): both decreased during High loading, and increased during Low loading. In contrast, compressive stiffness increased during High loading, and was inversely related to intradiscal pressure and disc height.

Conclusions: Intradiscal pressure is influenced by recent loading due to fluid flow. The correlations found in this study suggest that intradiscal pressure is important for disc height and axial compliance. These findings are relevant for mechanobiology studies, nucleus replacements, finite element models, and ex vivo organ culture systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-014-3450-4DOI Listing
November 2014

Single level lumbar laminectomy alters segmental biomechanical behavior without affecting adjacent segments.

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon) 2014 Sep 3;29(8):912-7. Epub 2014 Jul 3.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Electronic address:

Background: Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis causes neurological symptoms due to neural compression. Lumbar laminectomy is a commonly used treatment for symptomatic degenerative spinal stenosis. However, it is unknown if and to what extent single level laminectomy affects the range of motion and stiffness of treated and adjacent segments. An increase in range of motion and a decrease in stiffness are possible predictors of post-operative spondylolisthesis or spinal failure.

Methods: Twelve cadaveric human lumbar spines were obtained. After preloading, spines were tested in flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. Subsequently, single level lumbar laminectomy analogous to clinical practice was performed at level lumbar 2 or 4. Thereafter, load-deformation tests were repeated. The range of motion and stiffness of treated and adjacent segments were calculated before and after laminectomy. Untreated segments were used as control group. Effects of laminectomy on stiffness and range of motion were tested, separately for treated, adjacent and control segments, using repeated measures analysis of variance.

Findings: Range of motion at the level of laminectomy increased significantly for flexion and extension (7.3%), lateral bending (7.5%), and axial rotation (12.2%). Range of motion of adjacent segments was only significantly affected in lateral bending (-7.7%). Stiffness was not affected by laminectomy.

Interpretation: The increase in range of motion of 7-12% does not seem to indicate the use of additional instrumentation to stabilize the lumbar spine. If instrumentation is still considered in a patient, its primary focus should be on re-stabilizing only the treated segment level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2014.06.016DOI Listing
September 2014

Which factors prognosticate rotational instability following lumbar laminectomy?

Eur Spine J 2013 Dec 17;22(12):2897-903. Epub 2013 Sep 17.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, P.O. Box 7057, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Reduced strength and stiffness of lumbar spinal motion segments following laminectomy may lead to instability. Factors that predict shear biomechanical properties of the lumbar spine were previously published. The purpose of the present study was to predict spinal torsion biomechanical properties with and without laminectomy from a total of 21 imaging parameters.

Method: Radiographs and MRI of ten human cadaveric lumbar spines (mean age 75.5, range 59-88 years) were obtained to quantify geometry and degeneration of the motion segments. Additionally, dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans were performed to measure bone mineral content and density. Facet-sparing lumbar laminectomy was performed either on L2 or L4. Spinal motion segments were dissected (L2-L3 and L4-L5) and tested in torsion, under 1,600 N axial compression. Torsion moment to failure (TMF), early torsion stiffness (ETS, at 20-40 % TMF) and late torsion stiffness (LTS, at 60-80 % TMF) were determined and bivariate correlations with all parameters were established. For dichotomized parameters, independent-sample t tests were used.

Results: Univariate analyses showed that a range of geometric characteristics and disc and bone quality parameters were associated with torsion biomechanical properties of lumbar segments. Multivariate models showed that ETS, LTS and TMF could be predicted for segments without laminectomy (r (2) values 0.693, 0.610 and 0.452, respectively) and with laminectomy (r (2) values 0.952, 0.871 and 0.932, respectively), with DXA-derived measures of bone quality and quantity as the main predictors.

Conclusions: Vertebral bone content and geometry, i.e. intervertebral disc width, frontal area and facet joint tropism, were found to be strong predictors of ETS, LTS and TMF following laminectomy, suggesting that these variables could predict the possible development of post-operative rotational instability following lumbar laminectomy. Proposed diagnostic parameters might aid surgical decision-making when deciding upon the use of instrumentation techniques.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-013-3002-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3843774PMC
December 2013

Modelling creep behaviour of the human intervertebral disc.

J Biomech 2013 Aug 21;46(12):2101-3. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Department of Physics and Medical Technology, VU University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.

The mechanical behaviour of an intervertebral disc is time dependent. In literature different constitutive equations have been used to describe creep. It is unsure whether these different approaches yield valid predictions. In this study, we compared the validity of different equations for the prediction of creep behaviour. To this end, human thoracic discs were preloaded at 0.1 MPa for 12h, compressed (0.8 MPa) for 24h and finally unloaded (0.1 MPa) for 24h. A Kohlrausch-Williams-Watts (KWW) model and a Double-Voight (DV) model were fitted to the creep data. Model parameters were calculated for test durations of 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24h. Both models described the measured data well, but parameters were highly sensitive to test duration. The estimated time constant varied with test duration from 3.6 to 17h. When extrapolating beyond test duration, the DV model under-estimated and the KWW model over-estimated creep. The 24h experiment was still too short for an accurate determination of the parameters. Therefore, parameters obtained in this paper can be used to describe normal behaviour, but are not suitable for extrapolation beyond the test duration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.05.026DOI Listing
August 2013

Dynamic and static overloading induce early degenerative processes in caprine lumbar intervertebral discs.

PLoS One 2013 30;8(4):e62411. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Mechanical overloading of the spine is associated with low back pain and intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration. How excessive loading elicits degenerative changes in the IVD is poorly understood. Comprehensive knowledge of the interaction between mechanical loading, cell responses and changes in the extracellular matrix of the disc is needed in order to successfully intervene in this process. The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether dynamic and static overloading affect caprine lumbar discs differently and what mechanisms lead to mechanically induced IVD degeneration. Lumbar caprine IVDs (n = 175) were cultured 7, 14 and 21 days under simulated-physiological loading (control), high dynamic or high static loading. Axial deformation and stiffness were continuously measured. Cell viability, cell density, and gene expression were assessed in the nucleus, inner- and outer annulus. The extracellular matrix (ECM) was analyzed for water, glycosaminoglycan and collagen content. IVD height loss and changes in axial deformation were gradual with dynamic and acute with static overloading. Dynamic overloading caused cell death in all IVD regions, whereas static overloading mostly affected the outer annulus. IVDs expression of catabolic and inflammation-related genes was up-regulated directly, whereas loss of water and glycosaminoglycan were significant only after 21 days. Static and dynamic overloading both induced pathological changes to caprine lumbar IVDs within 21 days. The mechanism by which they inflict biomechanical, cellular, and extracellular changes to the nucleus and annulus differed. The described cascades provide leads for the development of new pharmacological and rehabilitative therapies to halt the progression of DDD.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062411PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3640099PMC
November 2013

Torsion biomechanics of the spine following lumbar laminectomy: a human cadaver study.

Eur Spine J 2013 Aug 5;22(8):1785-93. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, PO Box 7057, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Lumbar laminectomy affects spinal stability in shear loading. However, the effects of laminectomy on torsion biomechanics are unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of laminectomy on torsion stiffness and torsion strength of lumbar spinal segments following laminectomy and whether these biomechanical parameters are affected by disc degeneration and bone mineral density (BMD).

Methods: Ten human cadaveric lumbar spines were obtained (age 75.5, range 59-88). Disc degeneration (MRI) and BMD (DXA) were assessed. Disc degeneration was classified according to Pfirrmann and dichotomized in mild or severe. BMD was defined as high BMD (≥median BMD) or low BMD (
Results: Load-displacement curves showed a typical bi-phasic pattern with an early torsion stiffness (ETS), late torsion stiffness (LTS) and a TMF. Following laminectomy, ETS decreased 34.1 % (p < 0.001), LTS decreased 30.1 % (p = 0.027) and TMF decreased 17.6 % (p = 0.041). Disc degeneration (p < 0.001) and its interaction with laminectomy (p < 0.031) did significantly affect ETS. In the mildly degenerated group, ETS decreased 19.7 % from 7.6 Nm/degree (6.4-8.4) to 6.1 Nm/degree (1.5-10.3) following laminectomy. In the severely degenerated group, ETS decreased 22.3 % from 12.1 Nm/degree (4.6-21.9) to 9.4 Nm/degree (5.6-14.3) following laminectomy. In segments with low BMD, TMF was 40.7 % (p < 0.001) lower than segments with high BMD [34.9 Nm (range 23.7-51.2) versus 58.9 Nm (range 43.8-79.2)].

Conclusions: Laminectomy affects both torsion stiffness and torsion load to failure. In addition, torsional strength is strongly affected by BMD whereas disc degeneration affects torsional stiffness. Assessment of disc degeneration and BMD pre-operatively improves the understanding of the biomechanical effects of a lumbar laminectomy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-013-2699-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731493PMC
August 2013

Biomechanical and rheological characterization of mild intervertebral disc degeneration in a large animal model.

J Orthop Res 2013 May 19;31(5):703-9. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Biomechanical properties of healthy and degenerated nucleus pulposus (NP) are thought to be important for future regenerative strategies for intervertebral disc (IVD) repair. However, which properties are pivotal as design criteria when developing NP replacement materials is ill understood. Therefore, we determined and compared segmental biomechanics and NP viscoelastic properties in normal and mildly degenerated discs. In eight goats, three lumbar IVDs were chemically degenerated using chondroitinase ABC (CABC), confirmed with radiography and MRI after euthanasia 12 weeks post-operative. Neutral zone (NZ) stiffness and range of motion (ROM) were determined sagitally, laterally, and rotationally for each spinal motion segment (SMS) using a mechanical testing device. NPs were isolated for oscillatory shear experiments; elastic and viscous shear moduli followed from the ratio between shear stress and strain. Water content was quantified by weighing before and after freeze-drying. Disc height on radiographs and signal intensity on MRI decreased (6% and 22%, respectively, p < 0.01) after CABC treatment, confirming that chemical degeneration provides a good model of disc degeneration. Furthermore, CABC-injected IVDs had significantly lower NZ stiffness and larger ROM in lateral bending (LB) and axial rotation (AR) than controls. Rheometry consistently revealed significantly lower (10-12%) viscoelastic moduli after mild degeneration within goats, though the inter-animal differences were relatively large (complex modulus ∼12 to 41 kPa). Relative water content in the NP was unaffected by CABC, remaining at ∼75%. These observations suggest that viscoelastic properties have a marginal influence on mechanical behavior of the whole SMS. Therefore, when developing replacement materials the focus should be on other design criteria, such as biochemical cues and swelling pressure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jor.22296DOI Listing
May 2013

Effects of repetitive movement on range of motion and stiffness around the neutral orientation of the human lumbar spine.

J Biomech 2013 Jan 16;46(1):187-91. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

VU University Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic surgery, Research institute MOVE, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In loading experiments on the lumbar spine, typically three consecutive loading cycles are applied of which the third cycle is used for analysis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the use of ten instead of three loading cycles reduces effects of viscoelastic behavior in the assessment of range of motion (ROM) and stiffness around the neutral orientation of the human lumbar spine. To this end, twelve cadaveric human lumbar spines (L1-L5) were obtained (mean age: 76.9 years). Before testing, the spines were subjected to a compressive load of 250 N for 1 h. To each spine, ten consecutive loading cycles were applied (-4 Nm to+4 Nm) in flexion and extension (FE), lateral bending (LB) and axial rotation (AR). The ROM and stiffness within the neutral zone were calculated per motion segment (L2-L3, L3-L4 or L4-L5) from load-displacement data. It was found that the ROM increased significantly (all p<0.001) in all directions after three (FE: 0.07 degree/1.0%, LB: 0.08 degree/1.5%, and AR: 0.04 degree/1.5%) and after ten loading cycles (FE: 0.20 degree/2.9%, LB: 0.16 degree/3.3%, and AR: 0.09 degree/3.3%). Stiffness was not significantly affected, but varied considerably over cycles. Although effects were small, assessment of the tenth cycle instead of the third cycle reduces viscoelastic effects in repeated measurements of ROM, because the spine is closer to a steady state condition, while averaging over loading cycles would improve the assessment of stiffness estimates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.10.014DOI Listing
January 2013

Design, synthesis, imaging, and biomechanics of a softness-gradient hydrogel nucleus pulposus prosthesis in a canine lumbar spine model.

J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater 2012 Nov 9;100(8):2148-55. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

A hydrogel nucleus pulposus prosthesis (NPP) was designed to swell in situ, have intrinsic radiopacity, and restore intervertebral disc height and biomechanical functionality. These features were examined using an ex vivo canine lumbar model. Nine NPPs were implanted in five spines and their visibility was assessed on radiography, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The NPPs were visible on all imaging modalities and 8/9 NPPs stayed intact and in situ. Six other NPPs were tested biomechanically in six canine lumbar spines. Removal of the nucleus pulposus (nuclectomy) caused significant changes in biomechanical parameters. After implantation and swelling of the NPP, values were not significantly different from the native state for range of motion (ROM) of flexion-extension (FE) and lateral bending (LB), the neutral zone (NZ) of all motion directions, and the NZ stiffness (NZS) of FE. Biomechanical restoration by the NPP compared with the nuclectomized state was significant for the ROM of FE and axial rotation, the NZ of FE and LB, and the NZS of FE and LB. Disc height was significantly restored and 6/6 NPPs stayed intact and in situ. In conclusion, the NPPs swell in situ, have intrinsic radiopacity and restored disc height and aforementioned biomechanical properties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jbm.b.32780DOI Listing
November 2012

Biomechanical assessment of the effects of decompressive surgery in non-chondrodystrophic and chondrodystrophic canine multisegmented lumbar spines.

Eur Spine J 2012 Sep 11;21(9):1692-9. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 108, PO Box 80.154, 3508 TD, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Dogs are often used as an animal model in spinal research, but consideration should be given to the breed used as chondrodystrophic (CD) dog breeds always develop IVD degeneration at an early age, whereas non-chondrodystrophic (NCD) dog breeds may develop IVD degeneration, but only later in life. The aim of this study was to provide a mechanical characterization of the NCD [non-degenerated intervertebral discs (IVDs), rich in notochordal cells] and CD (degenerated IVDs, rich in chondrocyte-like cells) canine spine before and after decompressive surgery (nucleotomy).

Methods: The biomechanical properties of multisegmented lumbar spine specimens (T13-L5 and L5-Cd1) from 2-year-old NCD dogs (healthy) and CD dogs (early degeneration) were investigated in flexion/extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR), in the native state and after nucleotomy of L2-L3 or dorsal laminectomy and nucleotomy of L7-S1. The range of motion (ROM), neutral zone (NZ), and NZ stiffness (NZS) of L1-L2, L2-L3, L6-L7, and L7-S1 were calculated.

Results: In native spines in both dog groups, the greatest mobility in FE was found at L7-S1, and the greatest mobility in LB at L2-L3. Surgery significantly increased the ROM and NZ, and significantly decreased the NZS in FE, LB, and AR in both breed groups. However, surgery at L2-L3 resulted in a significantly larger increase in NZ and decrease in NZS in the CD spines compared with the NCD spines, whereas surgery at L7-S1 induced a significantly larger increase in ROM and decrease in NZS in the NCD spines compared with the CD spines.

Conclusions: Spinal biomechanics significantly differ between NCD and CD dogs and researchers should consider this aspect when using the dog as a model for spinal research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-012-2285-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459126PMC
September 2012

Simulated-physiological loading conditions preserve biological and mechanical properties of caprine lumbar intervertebral discs in ex vivo culture.

PLoS One 2012 13;7(3):e33147. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Low-back pain (LBP) is a common medical complaint and associated with high societal costs. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is assumed to be an important causal factor of LBP. IVDs are continuously mechanically loaded and both positive and negative effects have been attributed to different loading conditions.In order to study mechanical loading effects, degeneration-associated processes and/or potential regenerative therapies in IVDs, it is imperative to maintain the IVDs' structural integrity. While in vivo models provide comprehensive insight in IVD biology, an accompanying organ culture model can focus on a single factor, such as loading and may serve as a prescreening model to reduce life animal testing. In the current study we examined the feasibility of organ culture of caprine lumbar discs, with the hypothesis that a simulated-physiological load will optimally preserve IVD properties.Lumbar caprine IVDs (n = 175) were cultured in a bioreactor up to 21 days either without load, low dynamic load (LDL), or with simulated-physiological load (SPL). IVD stiffness was calculated from measurements of IVD loading and displacement. IVD nucleus, inner- and outer annulus were assessed for cell viability, cell density and gene expression. The extracellular matrix (ECM) was analyzed for water, glycosaminoglycan and total collagen content.IVD biomechanical properties did not change significantly with loading conditions. With SPL, cell viability, cell density and gene expression were preserved up to 21 days. Both unloaded and LDL resulted in decreased cell viability, cell density and significant changes in gene expression, yet no differences in ECM content were observed in any group.In conclusion, simulated-physiological loading preserved the native properties of caprine IVDs during a 21-day culture period. The characterization of caprine IVD response to culture in the LDCS under SPL conditions paves the way for controlled analysis of degeneration- and regeneration-associated processes in the future.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0033147PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302815PMC
August 2012

Which factors prognosticate spinal instability following lumbar laminectomy?

Eur Spine J 2012 Dec 17;21(12):2640-8. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Research Institute MOVE, De Boelelaan 1117, P.O. Box 7057, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Reduced strength and shear stiffness (SS) of lumbar motion segments following laminectomy may lead to instability. The purpose of the present study was to assess a broad range of parameters as potential predictors of shear biomechanical properties of the lumbar spine.

Methods: Radiographs and MRI of all lumbar spines were obtained to classify geometry and degeneration of the motion segments. Additionally, dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans were performed to measure bone mineral content and density (BMC and BMD). Facet sparing lumbar laminectomy was performed either on L2 or L4, in 10 human cadaveric lumbar spines (mean age 72.1 years, range 53-89 years). Spinal motion segments were dissected (L2-L3 and L4-L5) and tested in shear, under simultaneously loading with 1600 N axial compression. Shear stiffness, shear yield force (SYF) and shear force to failure (SFF) were determined and statistical correlations with all parameters were established.

Results: Following laminectomy, SS, SYF, and SFF declined (by respectively 24, 41, and 44%). For segments with laminectomy, SS was significantly correlated with intervertebral disc degeneration and facet joint degeneration (Pfirrmann: r = 0.64; Griffith: r = 0.70; Lane: r = 0.73 and Pathria: r = 0.64), SYF was correlated with intervertebral disc geometry (r = 0.66 for length; r = 0.66 for surface and r = 0.68 for volume), BMC (r = 0.65) and frontal area (r = 0.75), and SFF was correlated with disc length (r = 0.73) and BMC (r = 0.81). For untreated segments, SS was significantly correlated with facet joint tropism (r = 0.71), SYF was correlated with pedicle geometry (r = 0.83), and SFF was correlated with BMC (r = 0.85), BMD (r = 0.75) and frontal area (r = 0.75). SS, SYF and SFF could be predicted for segments with laminectomy (r (2) values respectively: 0.53, 0.81 and 0.77) and without laminectomy (r (2) value respectively: 0.50, 0.83 and 0.83).

Conclusions: Significant loss of strength and SS are predicted by BMC, BMD, intervertebral disc geometry and degenerative parameters, suggesting that low BMC or BMD, small intervertebral discs and absence of osteophytes could predict the possible development of post-operative instability following lumbar laminectomy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-012-2250-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508235PMC
December 2012

The impact of bone mineral density and disc degeneration on shear strength and stiffness of the lumbar spine following laminectomy.

Eur Spine J 2012 Mar 24;21(3):530-6. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, P.O. Box 7057, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Purpose: Laminectomy is a standard surgical procedure for elderly patients with symptomatic degenerative lumbar stenosis. The procedure aims at decompression of the affected nerves, but it also causes a reduction of spinal shear strength and shear stiffness. The magnitude of this reduction and the influence of bone mineral density (BMD) and disc degeneration are unknown. We studied the influence of laminectomy, BMD, and disc degeneration on shear force to failure (SFF) and shear stiffness (SS).

Methods: Ten human cadaveric lumbar spines were obtained (mean age 72.1 years, range 53-89 years). Laminectomy was performed either on L2 or L4, equally divided within the group of ten spines. BMD was assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Low BMD was defined as a BMD value below the median. Intervertebral discs were assessed for degeneration by MRI (Pfirrmann) and scaled in mild and severe degeneration groups. Motion segments L2-L3 and L4-L5 were isolated from each spine. SFF and SS were measured, while loading simultaneously with 1,600 N axial compression.

Results: Low BMD had a significant negative effect on SFF. In addition, a significant interaction between low BMD and laminectomy was found. In the high BMD group, SFF was 2,482 N (range 1,678-3,284) and decreased to 1,371 N (range 940-1,886) after laminectomy. In the low BMD group, SFF was 1,339 N (range 909-1,628) and decreased to 761 N (range 561-1,221). Disc degeneration did not affect SFF, nor did it interact with laminectomy. Neither low BMD nor the interaction of low BMD and laminectomy did affect SS. Degeneration and its interaction with laminectomy did not significantly affect SS.

Conclusions: In conclusion, low BMD significantly decreased SFF before and after lumbar laminectomy. Therefore, DXA assessment may be an important asset to preoperative screening. Lumbar disc degeneration did not affect shear properties of lumbar segments before or after laminectomy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00586-011-1968-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296849PMC
March 2012

Quantifying intervertebral disc mechanics: a new definition of the neutral zone.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2011 Feb 7;12:38. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

VU University Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Research Institute MOVE, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Background: The neutral zone (NZ) is the range over which a spinal motion segment (SMS) moves with minimal resistance. Clear as this may seem, the various methods to quantify NZ described in the literature depend on rather arbitrary criteria. Here we present a stricter, more objective definition.

Methods: To mathematically represent load-deflection of a SMS, the asymmetric curve was fitted by a summed sigmoid function. The first derivative of this curve represents the SMS compliance and the region with the highest compliance (minimal stiffness) is the NZ. To determine the boundaries of this region, the inflection points of compliance can be used as unique points. These are defined by the maximum and the minimum in the second derivative of the fitted curve, respectively. The merits of the model were investigated experimentally: eight porcine lumbar SMS's were bent in flexion-extension, before and after seven hours of axial compression.

Results: The summed sigmoid function provided an excellent fit to the measured data (r2 > 0.976). The NZ by the new definition was on average 2.4 (range 0.82-7.4) times the NZ as determined by the more commonly used angulation difference at zero loading. Interestingly, NZ consistently and significantly decreased after seven hours of axial compression when determined by the new definition. On the other hand, NZ increased when defined as angulation difference, probably reflecting the increase of hysteresis. The methods thus address different aspects of the load-deflection curve.

Conclusions: A strict mathematical definition of the NZ is proposed, based on the compliance of the SMS. This operational definition is objective, conceptually correct, and does not depend on arbitrarily chosen criteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-12-38DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3041726PMC
February 2011

The effects of creep and recovery on the in vitro biomechanical characteristics of human multi-level thoracolumbar spinal segments.

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon) 2011 Jun 19;26(5):438-44. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Department of Orthopaedics, Hanzeplein 1, Groningen, The Netherlands.

Background: Several physiological and pathological conditions in daily life cause sustained static bending or torsion loads on the spine resulting in creep of spinal segments. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of creep and recovery on the range of motion, neutral zone, and neutral zone stiffness of thoracolumbar multi-level spinal segments in flexion, extension, lateral bending and axial rotation.

Methods: Six human cadaveric spines (age at time of death 55-84 years) were sectioned in T1-T4, T5-T8, T9-T12, and L1-L4 segments and prepared for testing. Moments were applied of +4 to -4 N m in flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. This was repeated after 30 min of creep loading at 2 N m in the tested direction and after 30 min of recovery. Displacement of individual motion segments was measured using a 3D optical movement registration system. The range of motion, neutral zone, and neutral zone stiffness of the middle motion segments were calculated from the moment-angular displacement data.

Findings: The range of motion increased significantly after creep in extension, lateral bending and axial rotation (P<0.05). The range of motion after flexion creep showed an increasing trend as well, and the neutral zone after flexion creep increased by on average 36% (P<0.01). The neutral zone stiffness was significantly lower after creep in axial rotation (P<0.05).

Interpretation: The overall flexibility of the spinal segments was in general larger after 30 min of creep loading. This higher flexibility of the spinal segments may be a risk factor for potential spinal instability or injury.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2010.12.012DOI Listing
June 2011