Image driven subject-specific finite element models of spinal biomechanics.
Zanjani-Pour S., Winlove CP., Smith CW., Meakin JR.
Finite element (FE) modelling is an established technique for investigating spinal biomechanics. Using image data to produce FE models with subject-specific geometry and displacement boundary conditions may help extend their use to the assessment spinal loading in individuals. Lumbar spine magnetic resonance images from nine participants in the supine, standing and sitting postures were obtained and 2D poroelastic FE models of the lumbar spine were created from the supine data. The rigid body translation and rotation of the vertebral bodies as the participant moved to standing or sitting were applied to the model. The resulting pore pressure in the centre of the L4/L5 disc was determined and the sensitivity to the material properties and vertebral body displacements was assessed. Although the limitations of using a 2D model mean the predicted pore pressures are unlikely to be accurate, the results showed that subject-specific variation in geometry and motion during postural change leads to variation in pore pressure. The model was sensitive to the Young׳s modulus of the annulus matrix, the permeability of the nucleus, and the vertical translation of the vertebrae. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using image data to drive subject-specific lumbar spine FE models and indicates where further development is required to provide a method for assessing spinal biomechanics in a wide range of individuals.