Tensile behaviour of individual fibre bundles in the human lumbar anulus fibrosus
Pham, Diana, T
Shapter, Joseph George
Costi, John Jack
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Disc degeneration is a common medical affliction whose origins are not fully understood. An improved understanding of its underlying mechanisms could lead to the development of more effective treatments. The aim of this paper was to investigate the effect of (1) degeneration, (2) circumferential region and (3) strain rate on the microscale mechanical properties (toe region modulus, linear modulus, extensibility, phase angle) of individual fibre bundles in the anulus fibrosus lamellae of the human intervertebral disc. Healthy and degenerate fibre bundles excised from different circumferential regions in the outer anulus (posterolateral, lateral, anterolateral, anterior) were tensile tested at slow (0.1%/s), medium (1%/s) and fast (10%/s) strain rates using a micromechanical testing system. Our preliminary results showed that neither degeneration nor circumferential region significantly affected the fibre bundles’ mechanical behaviour. However, when the fibre bundles were tested at higher strain rates, this resulted in significantly higher linear moduli and lower phase angles. These findings, compared with data from other studies investigating single and multiple lamellae sections, suggest that degeneration has minimal effect on outer anulus mechanics irrespective of structural level, and the inter- and intra-lamellar arrangement and continuity of the fibre bundles may influence the lamellae’s regional behaviour and viscoelasticity.