Biomechanical properties in motion of lumbar spines with degenerative scoliosis

Christine M.E. Rustenburg, Idsart Kingma, Roderick M. Holewijn, Sayf S.A. Faraj, Albert van der Veen, Arno Bisschop, M. de Kleuver, Kaj S. Emanuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Degenerative lumbar scoliosis presumably alters spinal biomechanics, but a lack of quantitative reference measurements of these spines exists. We aimed to assess the biomechanical properties of spines with degenerative scoliosis, and to relate these to intervertebral disc degeneration (DD) and Cobb angle. Secondly, we compared these results to previous measurements of non-scoliotic spines. Ten cadaveric spines (Th12-L5, mean age 82 ± 11 years) with Cobb angle ≥10° and apex at L3 were acquired. Three loading cycles (−4 to 4 Nm) were applied in flexion/extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). The range of motion (ROM), neutral zone (NZ) stiffness, NZ ROM, elastic zone (EZ) stiffness and hysteresis were calculated for each motion segment in the loading direction. ROM was calculated in coupled directions, expressed as a percentage of rotation in the loaded direction. For Th12-L5, there was a ROM (degrees ± SD) of 14.9 ± 6.5 in FE, 14.9 ± 7.8 in LB, and 10.2 ± 5.5 in AR. The median (Nm/degree (Q1;Q3)) NZs was 0.24 (0.19;0.35) in FE, 0.25 (0.22;0.42) in LB, and 0.49 (0.33;0.99) in AR. Greater coupled motions related to higher Cobb angle, especially during AR on segments around the apex (FE: ρ = 0.539, p = 0.021 and LB: ρ = 0.821, p = 0.000). DD correlated to lower ROM and increased NZs on L2-L3 in FE (ρ = -0.721, p = 0.028 and ρ = 0.694, p = 0.038, respectively). Compared to non-scoliotic spines, smaller ROM in FE (p = 0.030) was found. This study describes the biomechanical properties of lumbar spines with degenerative scoliosis. Compared to non-scoliotic spines, they tended to be stiffer and exhibited smaller ROM in FE. DD only affected the ROM and NZs of the segments around the apex.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109495
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Early online date9 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2020


  • Cobb angle
  • De novo scoliosis
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Neutral zone
  • Range of motion


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