Development and validation of a geometrically personalized finite element model of the lower ligamentous cervical spine for clinical applications

Mohammad Nikkhoo*, Chih Hsiu Cheng, Jaw Lin Wang, Zahra Khoz, Marwan El-Rich, Nader Hebela, Kinda Khalaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

34 Scopus citations


Epidemiological and clinical studies show that the magnitude and scope of cervical disease are on the rise, along with the world's rising aging population. From a biomechanical perspective, the cervical spine presents a wide inter-individual variability, where its motion patterns and load sharing strongly depend on the anatomy. This study aimed to first develop and validate a geometrically patient-specific model of the lower cervical spine for clinical applications, and secondly to use the model to investigate the spinal biomechanics associated with typical cervical disorders. Based on measurements of 30 parameters from X-ray radiographs, the 3D geometry of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs (IVDs) were developed, and detailed finite element models (FEMs) of the lower ligamentous cervical spine for 6 subjects were constructed and simulated. The models were then used for the investigation of different grades of IVD alteration. The multi directional range of motion (ROM) results were in alignment with the in-vitro and in-Silico studies confirming the validity of the model. Severe disc alteration (Grade 3) presented a significant decrease in the ROM and intradiscal pressure (flexion, extension, and axial rotation) on the C5-C6 and slightly increase on the adjacent levels. Maximum stress in Annulus Fibrosus (AF) and facet joint forces increased for Grade 3 for both altered and adjacent levels. The novel validated geometrically-personalized FEM presented in this study potentially offers the clinical community a valuable quantitative tool for the noninvasive analyses of the biomechanical alterations associated with cervical spine disease towards improved surgical planning and enhanced clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - 06 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Biomechanics
  • Cervical spine
  • Disc alteration
  • Finite element analysis
  • Personalized modeling


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