Within the Marie Curie Initial Training Network SpineFX of the European Community this research is aimed at improving our understanding of vertebral fracture progression and the biomechanical implications of intervertebral disc degeneration.
For vertebral fracture progression, a novel finite element approach was implemented with the help of our partners from the Prague Technical University to quantify damage accumulation in a non-local fashion. This implies that the resulting finite element simulation of damage accumulation with the existing constitutive model for large stain compression of trabecular bone is not sensitive to the mesh size. This new approach could be applied to simulate compression of trabecular biopsies and vertebral bodies loaded up to 80% strain in a HR-pQCT scanner.
For the assessment of disc degeneration, biomechanical tests of a collection of human thoracolumbar spinal segments were conducted to measure their quasi-static compliance in flexion-extension, lateral bending, axial torsion and compression. In cooperation with the department of clinical research at Bern University, all segments were imaged by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with T1 and T2* sequences and graded by two independent spine surgeons. Potential correlations between the clinical grades, MRI images and stiffness were systematically analyzed.