Understanding how axial loads on the spine influence segmental biomechanics for idiopathic scoliosis patients: A magnetic resonance imaging study

Little, J. Paige, Pearcy, Mark J., Izatt, Maree T., Boom, Koen, Labrom, Robert D., Askin, Geoffrey N., & Adam, Clayton J. (2016) Understanding how axial loads on the spine influence segmental biomechanics for idiopathic scoliosis patients: A magnetic resonance imaging study. Clinical Biomechanics, 32, pp. 220-228.

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  • Segmental biomechanics of the scoliotic spine are important since the overall spinal deformity is comprised of the cumulative coronal and axial rotations of individual joints. This study investigates the coronal plane segmental biomechanics for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients in response to physiologically relevant axial compression.


  • Individual spinal joint compliance in the coronal plane was measured for a series of 15 idiopathic scoliosis patients using axially loaded magnetic resonance imaging. Each patient was first imaged in the supine position with no axial load, and then again following application of an axial compressive load. Coronal plane disc wedge angles in the unloaded and loaded configurations were measured. Joint moments exerted by the axial compressive load were used to derive estimates of individual joint compliance.


  • The mean standing major Cobb angle for this patient series was 46°. Mean intra-observer measurement error for endplate inclination was 1.6°. Following loading, initially highly wedged discs demonstrated a smaller change in wedge angle, than less wedged discs for certain spinal levels (+ 2,+1,− 2 relative to the apex, (p < 0.05)). Highly wedged discs were observed near the apex of the curve, which corresponded to lower joint compliance in the apical region.


  • While individual patients exhibit substantial variability in disc wedge angles and joint compliance, overall there is a pattern of increased disc wedging near the curve apex, and reduced joint compliance in this region. Approaches such as this can provide valuable biomechanical data on in vivo spinal biomechanics of the scoliotic spine, for analysis of deformity progression and surgical planning.

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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 90981
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, spine biomechanics, joint compliance, flexibility, magnetic resonance imaging, axial loading, spine segmental biomechanics, axial compression spine, MRI
DOI: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2015.11.007
ISSN: 0268-0033
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING (090300) > Biomechanical Engineering (090302)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > CLINICAL SCIENCES (110300) > Orthopaedics (110314)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Copyright Statement: This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Deposited On: 04 Dec 2015 02:02
Last Modified: 13 May 2017 06:15

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