Role of muscle damage on loading at the level adjacent to a lumbar spine fusion: a biomechanical analysis
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It is well established that posterior spinal surgery results in damage to the paraspinal musculature. The effects of such iatrogenic changes on spinal loading have not been previously investigated, particularly at levels adjacent to a spinal fusion. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the effect of simulated muscle damage on post-operative spinal loading at the adjacent levels to a spinal fusion during upright postures using a mathematical model.
A musculoskeletal model of the spine using ArtiSynth with 210 muscle fascicles was used to predict spinal loading in an upright posture. The loading at L1–L2 and L5–S1 were estimated before and after simulated paraspinal muscle damage (i.e., removal of muscle attachments at L2–L5) along the lumbar spine, both with a spinal fusion at L2–L5 and without a spinal fusion.
The axial compressive forces at the adjacent levels increased after simulated muscle damage, with the largest changes being at the rostral level (78 % increase in presence of spinal fusion; 73 % increase without spinal fusion) compared to the caudal level (41 % in presence of fusion and 32 % without fusion). Shear forces increased in a similar manner at both the rostral and caudal levels. These changes in loading were due to a redistribution of muscle activity from the local lumbar to the global spinal musculature.
The results suggest that the paraspinal muscles of the lumbar spine play an important role in adjacent segment loading of a spinal fusion, independent of the presence of rigid spinal instrumentation.
KeywordsMuscle damage Adjacent segment degeneration Lumbar spine Biomechanics Musculoskeletal model ArtiSynth
The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
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