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PeerJ. 2016 Mar 31;4:e1893. doi: 10.7717/peerj.1893. eCollection 2016.

Soft tissue artifact evaluation of the cervical spine in motion patterns of flexion and lateral bending: a preliminary study.

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College of Agricultural Engineering, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luo Yang He Nan, China; Key Laboratory of Bionic Engineering (Ministry of Education, China), Jilin University, Chang Chun JiLin, China.
Radiology Department, China-Japan Union Hospital of Jilin University , Chang Chun JiLin , China.
Key Laboratory of Bionic Engineering (Ministry of Education, China), Jilin University , Chang Chun JiLin , China.



Soft tissue artifact (STA) is increasingly becoming a focus of research as the skin marker method is widely employed in motion capture technique. At present, medical imaging methods provide reliable ways to investigate the cervical STA. Among these approaches, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a highly preferred tool because of its low radiation.


In the study, the 3D spatial location of vertebral landmarks and corresponding skin markers of the spinous processes of the second (C2), fifth (C5), and sixth (C6) cervical levels during flexion and lateral bending were investigated. A series of static postures were scanned using MRI. Skin deformation was obtained by the Mimics software.


Results shows that during flexion, the maximum skin deformation occurs at C6, in the superior-inferior (Z) direction. Upon lateral bending, the maximum skin displacement occurs at C2 level, in the left-right (Y) direction. The result presents variability of soft tissue in the terms of direction and magnitude, which is consistent with the prevailing opinion.


The results testified variability of cervical STA. Future studies involving large ranges of subject classification, such as age, sex, height, gravity, and etc. should be performed to completely verify the existing hypothesis on human cervical skin deformation.


Cervical spine; Magnetic resonance imaging; Soft tissue artifact

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