Early stage disc degeneration does not have an appreciable affect on stiffness and load transfer following vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty

Victor Kosmopoulos, Tony S. Keller, Constantin Schizas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty have been reported to alter the mechanical behavior of the treated and adjacent-level segments, and have been suggested to increase the risk for adjacent-level fractures. The intervertebral disc (IVD) plays an important role in the mechanical behavior of vertebral motion segments. Comparisons between normal and degenerative IVD motion segments following cement augmentation have yet to be reported. A microstructural finite element model of a degenerative IVD motion segment was constructed from micro-CT images. Microdamage within the vertebral body trabecular structure was used to simulate a slightly (I = 83.5% of intact stiffness), moderately (II = 57.8% of intact stiffness), and severely (III = 16.0% of intact stiffness) damaged motion segment. Six variable geometry single-segment cement repair strategies (models A-F) were studied at each damage level (I-III). IVD and bone stresses, and motion segment stiffness, were compared with the intact and baseline damage models (untreated), as well as, previous findings using normal IVD models with the same repair strategies. Overall, small differences were observed in motion segment stiffness and average stresses between the degenerative and normal disc repair models. We did however observe a reduction in endplate bulge and a redistribution in the microstructural tissue level stresses across both endplates and in the treated segment following early stage IVD degeneration. The cement augmentation strategy placing bone cement along the periphery of the vertebra (model E) proved to be the most advantageous in treating the degenerative IVD models by showing larger reductions in the average bone stresses (vertebral and endplate) as compared to the normal IVD models. Furthermore, only this repair strategy, and the complete cement fill strategy (model F), were able to restore the slightly damaged (I) motion segment stiffness above pre-damaged (intact) levels. Early stage IVD degeneration does not have an appreciable effect in motion segment stiffness and average stresses in the treated and adjacent-level segments following vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Placing bone cement in the periphery of the damaged vertebra in a degenerative IVD motion segment, minimizes load transfer, and may reduce the likelihood of adjacent-level fractures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Kyphoplasty
  • Load transfer
  • Microstructural finite element analysis
  • Vertebral motion segment
  • Vertebroplasty


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