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J Biomech. 2007;40(11):2457-66. Epub 2007 Jan 2.

Direct measurement of intervertebral disc maximum shear strain in six degrees of freedom: motions that place disc tissue at risk of injury.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of Vermont, Stafford Hall, Burlington, VT 05405-0084, USA.


Human intervertebral disc specimens were tested to determine the regions of largest maximum shear strain (MSS) experienced by disc tissues in each of three principal displacements and three rotations, and to identify the physiological rotations and displacements that may place the disc at greatest risk for large tissue strains and injury. Tearing of disc annulus may be initiated by large interlamellar shear strains. Nine human lumbar discs were tagged with radiographic markers on the endplates, disc periphery and with a grid of wires in the mid-transverse plane and subjected to each of the six principal displacements and rotations. Stereo-radiographs were taken in each position and digitized for reconstruction of the three-dimensional position of each marker. Maximum tissue shear strains were calculated from relative marker displacements and normalized by the input displacement or rotation. Lateral shear, compression, and lateral bending were the motions that produced the mean (95% confidence interval) largest mean MSS of 9.6 (0.7)%/mm, 9.0 (0.5)%/mm, and 5.8 (1.6)%/ degrees , respectively, and which occurred in the posterior, posterolateral and lateral peripheral regions of the disc. After taking into account the reported maximum physiological range of motion for each degree of freedom, motions producing the highest physiological MSS were lateral bending (57.8 (16.2)%) and flexion (38.3 (3.3)%), followed by lateral shear (14.4 (1.1)%) and compression (12.6 (0.7)%).

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