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Compressive Mechanical Properties of the Human Anulus Fibrosus and Their Relationship to Biochemical Composition

Best, Barbara A., PhD; Guilak, Farhid, PhD; Setton, Lori A., PhD; Zhu, Wenbo, PhD; Saed-Nejad, Fatemeh; Ratcliffe, Anthony, PhD; Weidenbaum, Mark, MD; Mow, Van C., PhD

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To enhance understanding of the biomechanical role of the intervertebral disc, the compressive properties and biochemical composition of nondegenerate samples of anulus fibrosus were determined as a function of radial position, region, and level, Because of the large swelling propensity of this tissue, a method was developed to test excised specimens while maintaining their in situ geometry and hydration. Using an analysis based on linear biphasic theory, the compressive modulus, hydraulic permeability, and isometric swelling pressure of the anulus fibrosus were determined and correlated with the tissue composition. The findings indicate that the anulus fibrosus is inhomogeneous, with regional and radial variations in both material properties and biochemical composition. The results of this study suggest that both structural and compositional factors may dtermine the mechanical behavior.

Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Columbia University, New York, New York, Dr. Best's current addresses in the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720; Dr. Guilak's current address is the Musculo-Skeletal Research Laboratory, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794; and Dr. Zhu's current address is the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD 21228.

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