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Effects of contusion load on cervical spinal cord: A finite element study

1 Key Laboratory of Spine and Spinal Cord Injury Repair and Regeneration, Ministry of Education, Tongji Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, 389 Xincun Road, Shanghai 200065, China
2 Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK.
3 Department of Structural Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
4 Department of Histology and Embryology, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200092, China

Special Issues: Microsurgical and Minimal Invasive Technologies for Musculoskeletal Tissue Repair

Injury of cervical spine is a common injury of locomotor system usually accompanied by spinal cord injury, however the injury mechanism of contusion load to the spinal cord is not clear. This study aims to investigate its injury mechanism associated with the contusion load, with different extents of spinal cord compression. A finite element model of cervical spinal cord was established and two scenarios of contusion injury loading conditions, i.e. back-to-front and front-to-back loads, were adopted. Four different compression displacements were applied to the middle section of the cervical spinal cord. The distributions of von Mises stress in middle transverse cross section were obtained from the finite element analysis. For the back-to-front loading scenario, the stress concentration was found in the area at and near the central canal and the damage may lead to the central canal syndrome from biomechanical point of view. With the front-to-back load, the maximum von Mises stress located in central canal area of gray matter when subject to 10% compression, whilst it appeared at the anterior horn when the compression increased. For the white matter, the maximum von Mises stress appeared in the area of the anterior funiculus. This leads to complicated symptoms given rise by damage to multiple locations in the cervical spinal cord. The illustrative results demonstrated the need of considering different loading scenarios in understanding the damage mechanisms of the cervical spinal cord, particularly when the loading conditions were given rise by different pathophysiological causes.
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Keywords cervical spinal cord; injury mechanism; contusion load; finite element analysis

Citation: Rui Zhu, Yuhang Chen, Qianqian Yu, Siqing Liu, Jianjie Wang, Zhili Zeng, Liming Cheng. Effects of contusion load on cervical spinal cord: A finite element study. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2020, 17(3): 2272-2283. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2020120

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