European Spine Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 11, pp 2359–2368 | Cite as

Intradiscal pressure depends on recent loading and correlates with disc height and compressive stiffness

  • Pieter-Paul A. Vergroesen
  • Albert J. van der Veen
  • Barend J. van Royen
  • Idsart Kingma
  • Theo H. Smit
Original Article



Intervertebral discs exhibit time-dependent deformation (creep), which could influence the relation between applied stress and intradiscal pressure. This study investigates the effect of prolonged dynamic loading on intradiscal pressure, disc height and compressive stiffness, and examines their mutual relationships.


Fifteen caprine lumbar discs with 5 mm of vertebral bone on either side were compressed by 1 Hz sinusoidal load for 4.5 h. After preload, ‘High’ (130 ± 20 N) or ‘Low’ (50 ± 10 N) loads were alternated every half hour. Continuous intradiscal pressure measurement was performed with a pressure transducer needle.


Each disc showed a linear relationship between axial compression and intradiscal pressure (R 2 > 0.91). The intercept of linear regression analysis declined over time, but the gradient remained constant. Disc height changes were correlated to intradiscal pressure changes (R 2 > 0.98): both decreased during High loading, and increased during Low loading. In contrast, compressive stiffness increased during High loading, and was inversely related to intradiscal pressure and disc height.


Intradiscal pressure is influenced by recent loading due to fluid flow. The correlations found in this study suggest that intradiscal pressure is important for disc height and axial compliance. These findings are relevant for mechanobiology studies, nucleus replacements, finite element models, and ex vivo organ culture systems.


Intervertebral disc Biomechanics Intradiscal pressure Fluid flow Hydrostatic pressure 



The authors thank Joost Meijering and Daniël Witte for their aid in performing the experiments, and Kaj Emanuel for proof reading the manuscript. TS acknowledges the support from ZonMW-VICI Grant 918.11.635.

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

586_2014_3450_MOESM1_ESM.tif (64.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 66226 kb)
586_2014_3450_MOESM2_ESM.doc (26 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pieter-Paul A. Vergroesen
    • 1
  • Albert J. van der Veen
    • 2
  • Barend J. van Royen
    • 1
  • Idsart Kingma
    • 3
  • Theo H. Smit
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, MOVE Research Institute AmsterdamVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Physics and Medical Technology, MOVE Research Institute AmsterdamVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, MOVE Research Institute AmsterdamVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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