A novel finite element model of the ovine lumbar intervertebral disc with anisotropic hyperelastic material properties

Gloria Casaroli, Fabio Galbusera, Rene Jonas, Benedikt Schlager, Hans Joachim Wilke, Tomaso Villa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Ovine spine is an accepted model to investigate the biomechanical behaviour of the human lumbar one. Indeed, the use of animal models for in vitro studies is necessary to investigate the mechanical behaviour of biological tissue, but needs to be reduced for ethical and social reasons. The aim of this study was to create a finite element model of the lumbar intervertebral disc of the sheep that may help to refine the understanding of parallel in vitro experiments and that can be used to predict when mechanical failure occurs. Anisotropic hyperelastic material properties were assigned to the annulus fibrosus and factorial optimization analyses were performed to find out the optimal parameters of the ground substance and of the collagen fibers. For the ground substance of the annulus fibrosus the investigation was based on experimental data taken from the literature, while for the collagen fibers tensile tests on annulus specimens were conducted. Flexibility analysis in flexion-extension, lateral bending and axial rotation were conducted. Different material properties for the anterior, lateral and posterior regions of the annulus were found. The posterior part resulted the stiffest region in compression whereas the anterior one the stiffest region in tension. Since the flexibility outcomes were in a good agreement with the literature data, we considered this model suitable to be used in conjunction with in vitro and in vivo tests to investigate the mechanical behaviour of the ovine lumbar disc.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0177088
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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