Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 17–28 | Cite as

Assessment of intervertebral disc degeneration-related properties using finite element models based on \(\uprho _H\)-weighted MRI data

  • Mohamed Amine ChetouiEmail author
  • Olivier Boiron
  • Moncef Ghiss
  • Abdelwaheb Dogui
  • Valérie Deplano
Original Paper


Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides useful information about intervertebral disc (IVD) biomechanical properties, especially those in relation to the fluid phase. These properties may improve IVD finite element (FE) models using data closer to physiological reality. The aim of this study is to investigate IVD degeneration-related properties using a coupling between MRI and FE modeling. To this end, proton density (\(\rho _H\))-weighted MRI sequences of a porcine lumbar IVD were carried out to develop two biphasic swelling models with hyperelastic extracellular matrix behavior. The first model is isotropic, and the second one is anisotropic and takes into account the role of collagen fibers in the mechanical behavior of the IVD. MRI sequences permitted to determine the geometry and the real porosity mapping within the disc. The differentiation between disc components (nucleus pulposus, annulus fibrosus and cartilaginous end plates) was taken into account using spatial continuous distributions of the mechanical properties. The validation of the FE models was performed through two steps: the identification of the model’s mechanical properties using relaxation compressive test and the comparison between the MRI after load porosity distributions and those numerically obtained using the set of identified properties. The results confirmed that the two developed FE models were able to predict the mechanical response of uniaxial time-dependent compressive test and the redistribution of porosity after load. A slight difference between the measured and the numerical local bulges of the disc was found. This study suggests that from the coupling between MRI imaging in different state of load and finite element modeling we can deduce relevant information that can be used in the assessment of the early intervertebral disc degeneration changes.


Porous media Intervertebral disc Collagen fibers Porosity Disc degeneration \(\rho _H\)-weighted MRI FE modeling 



A part of this work has been carried out in the framework of the labex MEC (ANR-10-LABX-0092). The authors thank Pr. Patrick Tropiano (Orthopedic surgeon, APHM La Timone hospital, Marseille) and Gaetan Aüllo-Rasser (PHD, RLC systems and Aix-Marseille university) for their contribution in this work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRS, Ecole Centrale, IRPHE UMR 7342Aix-Marseille UniversitéMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.National Engineering School of Monastir, LGMUniversity of MonastirMonastirTunisia
  3. 3.National Engineering School of Sousse, LMSUniversity of SousseSousseTunisia

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