Annular Defects Impair the Mechanical Stability of the Intervertebral Disc

Global Spine J. 2023 Apr;13(3):724-729. doi: 10.1177/21925682211006061. Epub 2021 Mar 30.


Study design: A biomechanical study.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cruciform and square incisions of annulus fibrosus (AF) on the mechanical stability of bovine intervertebral disc (IVD) in multiple degrees of freedom.

Methods: Eight bovine caudal IVD motion segments (bone-disc-bone) were obtained from the local abattoir. Cruciform and square incisions were made at the right side of the specimen's annulus using a surgical scalpel. Biomechanical testing of three-dimensional 6 degrees of freedom was then performed on the bovine caudal motion segments using the mechanical testing and simulation (MTS) machine. Force, displacement, torque and angle were recorded synchronously by the MTS system. P value <.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Cruciform and square incisions of the AF reduced both axial compressive and torsional stiffness of the IVD and were significantly lower than those of the intact specimens (P < .01). Left-side axial torsional stiffness of the cruciform incision was significantly higher than a square incision (P < .01). Neither incision methods impacted flexional-extensional stiffness or lateral-bending stiffness.

Conclusions: The cruciform and square incisions of the AF obviously reduced axial compression and axial rotation, but they did not change the flexion-extension and lateral-bending stiffness of the bovine caudal IVD. This mechanical study will be meaningful for the development of new approaches to AF repair and the rehabilitation of the patients after receiving discectomy.

Keywords: annulus fibrosus; biomechanics; bovine disc; defects; intervertebral disc; stability.