Cyclic axial compression-tension tests and cyclic torsional tests were performed on ten fresh human L4-5 functional spinal units to investigate the structural effects of the posterior elements on the mechanical properties of L4-5 functional spinal units.
The stiffness of the functional spinal unit increased with the increase of displacement under every loading. This was same in the intact functional spinal units and the functional spinal units after removal of each posterior element, respectively. All the postorlor elements contributed to the compressive, tensile, and torsional stiffness of L4-5 functional spinal units. The apophyseal joints had a significant effect on the compressive and torsional stiffness. The effect of the apophyseal joints on the torsional stiffness became greater according to the extent of displacement, whereas their effect on the compressive stiffness was constant. The posterior ligaments (supraspinous and interspinous ligaments) had a significant effect on the tensile stiffness.
(C) Lippincott-Raven Publishers.