Comparison of biomechanical properties of a synthetic l3-s1 spine model and cadaveric human samples

Anita Vijapura, David Kaimrajh, Edward Milne, Loren Latta, Francesco Travascio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human cadavers currently represent the gold standard for spine biomechanical testing, but limitations such as costs, storage, handling, and high interspecimen variance motivate the development of alternatives. A commer-cially available synthetic surrogate for the human spine, the Sawbones spine model (SBSM), has been developed. The equivalence of SBSM to a human cadaver in terms of biomechanical behavior has not been fully assessed. The objective of this study is to compare the biomechanics of a lumbar tract of SBSM to that of a cadaver under physiologically rele-vant mechanical loads. An L3-S1 SBSM and 39 comparable human cadaver lumbar spine tracts were used. Each sample was loaded in pure flexion-extension or torsion. Gravity and follower loads were also included. The movement of each vertebral body was tracked via motion capture. The range of motion (ROM) of each spine segment was recorded, as well as the overall stiffness of each L3-S1 sample. The ROM of SBSM L3-L4 was larger than that found in cadavers in flexion-extension and torsion. For the other spine levels, the ROMs of SBSM were within one standard deviation from the mean values measured in cadavers. The values of structural stiffness for L3-S1 of SBSM were comparable to those of cadaveric specimens for both flexion and torsion. In extension, SBSM was more compliant than cadavers. In conclusion, most of the biomechanical properties of an L3-S1 SBSM model were comparable to those of human cadaveric specimens, supporting the use of this synthetic surrogate for testing applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-129
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Fatigue testing
  • Lumbar spine
  • Spine biomechanics
  • Synthetic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Dentistry(all)


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