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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2001 Mar 15;26(6):E122-9.

Load-sharing between anterior and posterior elements in a lumbar motion segment implanted with an artificial disc.

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Iowa Spine Research Center, Departments of Biomedical Engineering andOrthopaedics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.



A nonlinear three-dimensional finite element model of the osteoligamentous L3-L4 motion segment was used to predict changes in posterior element loads as a function of disc implantation and associated surgical procedures.


To evaluate the effects of disc implantation on the biomechanics of the posterior spinal elements (including the facet joints, pedicles, and lamina) and on the vertebral bodies.


Although several artificial disc designs have been used clinically, biomechanical data-particularly the change in loads in the posterior elements after disc implantation-are sparse.


A previously validated intact finite element model was implanted with a ball-and-cup-type artificial disc model via an anterior approach. The implanted model predictions were compared with in vitro data. To study surgical variables, small and large windows were cut into the anulus, and the implant was placed anteriorly and posteriorly within the disc space. The anterior longitudinal ligament was also restored. Models were subjected to either 800 N axial compression force alone or to a combination of 10 N-m flexion-extension moment and 400 N axial preload. Implanted model predictions were compared with those of the intact model.


Facet loads were more sensitive to the anteroposterior location of the artificial disc than to the amount of anulus removed. Under 800 N axial compression, implanted models with an anteriorly placed artificial disc exhibited facet loads 2.5 times greater than loads observed with the intact model, whereas posteriorly implanted models predicted no facet loads in compression. Implanted models with a posteriorly placed disc exhibited greater flexibility than the intact and implanted models with anteriorly placed discs. Restoration of the anterior longitudinal ligament reduced pedicle stresses, facet loads, and extension rotation to nearly intact levels.


The models suggest that, by altering placement of the artificial disc in the anteroposterior direction, a surgeon can modulate motion-segment flexuralstiffness and posterior load-sharing, even though the specific disc replacement design has no inherent rotational stiffness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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