A finite element model of the L4-L5 spinal motion segment: Biomechanical compatibility of an interspinous device

Pasquale Vena, Giampaolo Franzoso, Dario Gastaldi, Roberto Contro, Villiam Dallolio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The biomechanical compatibility of an interspinous device, used for the "dynamic stabilization" of a diseased spinal motion segment, was investigated. The behaviour of an implant made of titanium based alloy (Ti6Al4V) and that of an implant made of a super-elastic alloy (Ni-Ti) have been compared. The assessment of the biomechanical compatibility was achieved by means of the finite element method, in which suitable constitutive laws have been adopted for the annulus fibrosus and for the metal alloys. The model was aimed at simulating the healthy, the nucleotomized and the treated L4-L5 lumbar segment, subjected to compressive force and flexion-extension as well as lateral flexion moments. The computational model has shown that both the implants were able to achieve their main design purpose, which is to diminish the forces acting on the apophyseal joints. Nevertheless, the Ni-Ti implant has shown a more physiological flexural stiffness with respect to the Ti6Al4V implant, which exhibited an excessive stiffness and permanent strains (plastic strains), even under physiological loads. The computational models presented in this paper seems to be a promising tool able to predict the effectiveness of a biomedical device and to select the materials to be used for the implant manufacturing, within an engineering approach to the clinical problem of the spinal diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages10
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Finite Element Model
  • Intervertebral Disc
  • Lumbar Spine
  • Ni-Ti Alloy
  • Soft Biological Tissues
  • Titanium Alloy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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