The Role of Trabecular, Ligamentous-Intervertebral Disk and Facet Joints Systems: A Finite Element Analysis in the L4-S1 Vertebrae

José Alejandro Guerrero-Vargas, Pablo Sanchez-Quinones, Brayan Felipe Pinzón, Melisa Vélez-Muriel, Humberto Madriñan-Navia, Leonardo Laverde-Frade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Design: Descriptive. Objectives: Trabecular bone in the vertebrae is critical for the distribution of load and stress throughout the neuroaxis, as well as the intervertebral disk, ligamentous complex, and facet joints. The objective was to assess the stress and strain distribution of the L4-S1 spine segment by a finite element analysis. Methods: A lumbosacral spine model was built based on a CT-Scan. Trabecular-to-cortical bone distribution, ligaments, intervertebral disk, and facet joints with cartilage were included. A perpendicular force was applied over the L4 upper terminal plate of 300 N, 460 N and 600 N in neutral, plus 5 Nm and 7.5 Nm for flexion and extension movements. Maximum principal stress and total deformation were the main studied variables. Results: Trabecular bone confers resistance to axial loads on the vertebrae by elastic capacity and stress distribution. MPS and TD showed axial stress attenuation in the nucleus pulposus and longitudinal ligaments, as well as load distribution capacity. Facet joints and discontinuous ligaments showed greater TD values in flexion moments but greater MPS values in extension, conferring stability to the lumbosacral junction and axial load distribution. Conclusion: We propose 3 anatomical systems for axial load distribution and stress attenuation in the lumbosacral junction. Trabecular bone distributes loads, while the ligamentous-intervertebral disk transmits and attenuate axial stress. Facet joints and discontinuous ligaments act as stabilizers for flexion and extension postures. Overall, the relationship between trabecular bone, ligamentous-intervertebral disk complex and facet joints is necessary for an efficient load distribution and segmental axial stress reduction. This slide can be retrieved from the Global Spine Congress 2023.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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