The Mechanical Role of the Radial Fiber Network Within the Annulus Fibrosus of the Lumbar Intervertebral Disc: A Finite Elements Study

Mirit Sharabi, Aviad Levi-Sasson, Roza Wolfson, Kelly R. Wade, Fabio Galbusera, Dafna Benayahu, Wilke Hans-Joachim, Rami Haj-Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The annulus fibrosus (AF) of the intervertebral disc (IVD) consists of a set of concentric layers composed of a primary circumferential collagen fibers arranged in an alternating oblique orientation. Moreover, there exists an additional secondary set of radial translamellar collagen fibers which connects the concentric layers, creating an interconnected fiber network. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanical role of the radial fiber network. Toward that goal, a three-dimensional (3D) finite element model of the L3-L4 spinal segment was generated and calibrated to axial compression and pure moment loading. The AF model explicitly recognizes the two heterogeneous networks of fibers. The presence of radial fibers demonstrated a pronounced effect on the local disc responses under lateral bending, flexion, and extension modes. In these modes, the radial fibers were in a tensile state in the disc region that subjected to compression. In addition, the circumferential fibers, on the opposite side of the IVD, were also under tension. The local stress in the matrix was decreased in up to 9% in the radial fibers presence. This implies an active fiber network acting collectively to reduce the stresses and strains in the AF lamellae. Moreover, a reduction of 26.6% in the matrix sideways expansion was seen in the presence of the radial fibers near the neutral bending axis of the disc. The proposed biomechanical model provided a new insight into the mechanical role of the radial collagen fibers in the AF structure. This model can assist in the design of future IVD substitutes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number021006
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Volume141
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019

Keywords

  • annulus fibrosus
  • finite element
  • intervertebral disc
  • mechanical behavior
  • radial translamellar fibers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)

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