EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M022242/1
Title: Material Properties of the Intervertebral Disc
Principal Investigator: Masouros, Dr S
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Dept of Bioengineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 July 2015 Ends: 30 June 2016 Value (£): 98,439
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomechanics & Rehabilitation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Feb 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 25 February 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The intervertebral disc is the primary articulation between adjacent vertebral bodies in the human spine. Degenerative disc disease is the leading cause of pain and disability in the adult; replacing the diseased disc with an artificial material is becoming the treatment of choice in cases that require surgery. At the same time, injuries to the spinal column are common in incidents that are associated with high accelerations, such as falls, sports injuries, road traffic accidents, and acts of violence; these injuries are often associated with long term disability. Injury induced by road-traffic accidents alone is predicted to become the third leading cause for burden of disease by 2030 according to the World Health Organization.

A comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms associated with injury to the spine is lacking, especially in high-energy trauma. Official NATO reports acknowledge the limitations of current injury criteria and lack of injury risk curves for the spine; these criteria and curves would allow us to evaluate vehicles and protection systems appropriately. Similarly, the human-like response of anthropometric test devices (or dummies) in predicting the response of the human spine under load is questionable. As a result, strategies to enhance protection and to improve protective equipment are being developed using sub-standard technologies.

Finite element (FE) modelling - a type of computer simulation of the mechanics of structures - of human injury, of implants and of protective systems are important engineering tools that allow us to understand the mechanisms involved in an injurious event and to develop new and improved evaluation criteria, techniques, materials and designs in a cost-efficient manner. As computational power becomes more abundant, FE modelling for optimal design is a clear strategic direction in industry as an alternative to expensive and labour intensive experiments. A critical parameter, however, that influences the predictive ability of FE models of human response is the quality of the input data that are associated with the material behaviour of human tissue. Such data, particularly at loading rates relevant to injury, are sparse for most human tissues; this is definitely the case for the intervertebral disc.

The aim of this project, therefore, is to quantify the material behaviour of the human intervertebral disc across physiological and injurious loading rates. The intention is to inform implant design and to increase the accuracy of FE models of human injury in order to improve their ability to simulate the response of the spine under load.

Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk