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New Testing Approaches for Biomechanical Experiments on the Spine

The Spine Biomechanics group (Head of Department Dr. Jonas Widmer) of the Balgrist University Hospital in Switzerland (Clinic Director Prof. Mazda Farshad) is a multidisciplinary research facility, which is dedicated to scientific matters involving the spine.Due to the local proximity to the orthopedic clinic, there is a close exchange between engineers from the technical field and surgeons from the medical field.In addition, the research group has a close collaborative relationship with the Biomechanics Group of the ETH Zurich (Professor Jess Snedeker).This interdisciplinary approach guarantees a high level of expertise in the investigation of relevant clinical questions.

Experiments on the spine

The group of Dr. Jonas Widmer established a fully equipped spine laboratory with customized test setups for biomechanical in-vitro experiments.The equipment has been used for a variety of studies on human spinal cadavers to test and characterize the anatomy and tissue properties.The knowledge gained from these studies is incorporated in patient-specific, biomechanical models that are used for the optimization and validation of operation planning.In addition, the lab also develops and tests new implants.

Within this context, a lot of clinical questions have been addressed, such as:

  • What does correct positioning of screws in vertebral bodies look like, so that a fusion operation an be carried out without complications?
  • How can 3D printed clamps be used to test spines without damaging biological structures?
  • How are different spine structures used to achieve stability of the lumbar spine?
  • How does the process of degeneration change the mechanics of the spine?

“With the high level of flexibility provided by the testXpert III testing software and the graphical sequence editor we are able to implement our complex test sequences and seamlessly integrate our measurement electronics in the test sequences.”

Dr. Widmer<br/> Head of Department Spine Biomechanics

The right equipment

In these experiments—today and in the future—the group relies on a 10 kN materials testing machine with torsion drive from ZwickRoell for biomechanical testing.It is equipped with the testXpert III testing software and provides maximum flexibility for a wide variety of tests.The integration of external sensors additionally offers access to external measurement electronics such as movement cameras that can be easily integrated in the test sequence.The modular design supports quick changes in the test arrangement, so that other test tasks can be easily carried out without unnecessary and time-consuming efforts.

Publications on the ZwickRoell Machine

Publications on the ZwickRoell Machine

2019 Journal of Biomechanics
2021 Journal of Biomechanics
2021 Journal of Biomechanics
2021 Journal of Biomechanics
2020 The Spine Journal
2021 The Spine Journal
2021 The Spine Journal
2021 PLoS One

2019 Journal of Biomechanics

3D printed clamps improve spine specimen fixation in biomechanical testing

Cornaz, Fasser, Spirig, Snedeker, Farshad, Widmer<br/><br/>Publication

2021 Journal of Biomechanics

Region- and degeneration dependent stiffness distribution in intervertebral discs derived by shear wave elastography

Götschi*, Widmer*, Cornaz, Kimena, Spirig, Snedeker**, Farshad**

Publication

2021 Journal of Biomechanics

3D printed clamps for fixation of spinal segments in biomechanical testing.

Cornaz, Fasser, Spirig, Snedeker, Farshad, Widmer

Publication

2021 Journal of Biomechanics

Hydrostatic integrity of the intervertebral disc assessed by MRI

Widmer, Cornaz, Farshad, Snedeker, Spirig, Farshad

Publication

2020 The Spine Journal

Biomechanical contribution of spinal structures to stability of the lumbar spine-novel biomechanical insights

Widmer*, Cornaz*, Scheibler, Spirig, Snedeker, Farshad

Publication

2021 The Spine Journal

Biomechanical contributions of spinal structures with different degrees of disc degeneration

Cornaz*, Widmer*, Farshad-Amacker, Spirig, Snedeker, Farshad

Publication

2021 The Spine Journal

Intervertebral disc degeneration relates to biomechanical changes of spinal ligaments

Cornaz, Widmer, Farshad-Amacker, Spirig, Snedeker, Farshad

Publication

2021 PLoS One

Is a crosslink beneficial for single level traditional or cortical bone trajectory pedicle screw instrumentation?

Cornaz*, Widmer*, Fasser, Snedeker Matzukawa, Spirig, Farshad

Publication

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