Tissue strain is an important indicator of mechanical function, but is difficult to noninvasively measure in the intervertebral disc. The objective of this study was to generate a disc strain template, a 3D average of disc strain, of a group of human L4–L5 discs loaded in axial compression. To do so, magnetic resonance images of uncompressed discs were used to create an average disc shape. Next, the strain tensors were calculated pixel-wise by using a previously developed registration algorithm. Individual disc strain tensor components were then transformed to the template space and averaged to create the disc strain template. The strain template reduced individual variability while highlighting group trends. For example, higher axial and circumferential strains were present in the lateral and posterolateral regions of the disc, which may lead to annular tears. This quantification of group-level trends in local 3D strain is a significant step forward in the study of disc biomechanics. These trends were compared to a finite element model that had been previously validated against the disc-level mechanical response. Depending on the strain component, 81–99% of the regions within the finite element model had calculated strains within one standard deviation of the template strain results. The template creation technique provides a new measurement technique useful for a wide range of studies, including more complex loading conditions, the effect of disc pathologies and degeneration, damage mechanisms, and design and evaluation of treatments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine