J Biomech 2011 Aug 24;44(12):2323-7. Epub 2011 Jun 24.
Julius Wolff Institute, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, 13353 Berlin, Germany.
Simplified loading modes (pure moment, compressive force) are usually applied in the in vitro studies to simulate flexion-extension, lateral bending and axial rotation of the spine. The load magnitudes for axial rotation vary strongly in the literature. Therefore, the results of current investigations, e.g. intervertebral rotations, are hardly comparable and may involve unrealistic values. Thus, the question 'which in vitro applicable loading mode is the most realistic' remains open. A validated finite element model of the lumbar spine was employed in two sensitivity studies to estimate the ranges of results due to published load assumptions and to determine the input parameters (e.g. torsional moment), which mostly affect the spinal load and kinematics during axial rotation. In a subsequent optimisation study, the in vitro applicable loading mode was determined, which delivers results that fit best with available in vivo measurements. The calculated results varied widely for loads used in the literature with potential high deviations from in vivo measured values. The intradiscal pressure is mainly affected by the magnitude of the compressive force, while the torsional moment influences mainly the intervertebral rotations and facet joint forces. The best agreement with results measured in vivo were found for a compressive follower force of 720N and a pure moment of 5.5Nm applied to the unconstrained vertebra L1. The results reveal that in many studies the assumed loads do not realistically simulate axial rotation. The in vitro applicable simplified loads cannot perfectly mimic the in vivo situation. However, the optimised values lead to the best agreement with in vivo measured values. Their consequent application would lead to a better comparability of different investigations.