Structural behavior of human lumbar intervertebral disc under direct shear

Hendrik Schmidt, Kim Häußler, Hans-Joachim Wilke, Uwe Wolfram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The intervertebral disc (IVD) is a complex, flexible joint between adjacent vertebral bodies that provides load transmission while permitting movements of the spinal column. Finite element models can be used to help clarify why and how IVDs fail or degenerate. To do so, it is of importance to validate those models against controllable experiments. Due to missing experimental data, shear properties are not used thus far in validating finite element models. This study aimed to investigate the structural shear properties of human lumbar IVDs in posteroanterior (PA) and laterolateral (LL) loading directions.
Methods - Fourteen lumbar IVDs (median age: 49 years) underwent direct shear in PA and LL loading directions. A custom-build shear device was used in combination with a materials testing machine to load the specimens until failure. Shear stiffness, ultimate shear force and displacement, and work to failure were determined.
Results - Each specimen was tested until complete or partial disruption. Median stiffness in PA direction was 490 N/mm and in LL direction 568 N/mm. Median ultimate shear force in the PA direction was 2,877 N and in the LL direction 3,199 N. Work to failure was 12 Nm in the PA and 9 Nm in the LL direction.
Conclusions - This study was an experiment to subject IVDs to direct shear. The results could help us to understand the structure and function of IVDs with regard to mechanical spinal stability, and they can be used to validate finite element models of the IVD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e66-e77
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Biomaterials and Functional Materials
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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