A finite element modeling of the human lumbar unit including the spinal cord


The purpose of this present work is to provide a tool to better understand mechanically related pathologies of the lumbar unit and the spinal structure by providing spinal cord deformations in different loading cases. In fact, spinal cord injury (SCI) resulting from a traumatic movement leades to a deformation of the neural and vascular structure of the spinal cord. And since the magnitude of the spinal cord stress is correlated with the pressure of the vertebral elements, stresses will be computed on all theses components. Physical properties of the vertebrae, various ligaments, the discs, and the spinal cord are described under simple loading as compression, and combined loading, flexion and lateral bending to evaluate the pressure undergone by different components of the lumbar unit. A nonlinear three-dimensional finite element method is used as a numerical tool to perform all the computations. This study provides accurate results for the localisation and the magnitude of maximum equivalent stress and shear stress on the lumbar unit and especially for the spinal cord. These results showed that stresses are more important when a compression of 500 N is combined with a flexion and a lateral bending. In particular, shear stresses are maximum for the spinal cord and the four intervertebral discs for the case of a flexion of 3.8 N.m and a lateral bending of 6.5 N.m.

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Ben-Hatira, F. , Saidane, K. and Mrabet, A. (2012) A finite element modeling of the human lumbar unit including the spinal cord. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 5, 146-152. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2012.53019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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