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J Biomech. 2012 Feb 23;45(4):706-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.12.018. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Pure moment testing for spinal biomechanics applications: fixed versus 3D floating ring cable-driven test designs.

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  • 1The Taylor Collaboration, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.


Pure moment testing has become a standard protocol for in vitro assessment of the effect of surgical techniques or devices on the bending rigidity of the spine. Of the methods used for pure moment testing, cable-driven set-ups are popular due to their low requirements and simple design. Fixed loading rings are traditionally used in conjunction with these cable-driven systems. However, the accuracy and validity of the loading conditions applied with fixed ring designs have raised some concern, and discrepancies have been found between intended and prescribed loading conditions for flexion-extension. This study extends this prior work to include lateral bending and axial torsion, and compares this fixed ring design with a novel "3D floating ring" design. A complete battery of multi-axial bending tests was conducted with both rings in multiple different configurations using an artificial lumbar spine. Applied moments were monitored and recorded by a multi-axial load cell at the base of the specimen. Results indicate that the fixed ring design deviates as much as 77% from intended moments and induces non-trivial shear forces (up to 18 N) when loaded to a non-destructive maximum of 4.5 Nm. The novel 3D floating ring design largely corrects the inherent errors in the fixed ring design by allowing additional directions of unconstrained motion and producing uniform loading conditions along the length of the specimen. In light of the results, it is suggested that the 3D floating ring set-up be used for future pure moment spine biomechanics applications using a cable-driven apparatus.

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