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2023, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (18): 2921-2927

Application of finite element analysis in spine surgery

Gao Xu1, Xing Wenhua2   

  1. 1Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot 010030, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China; 2Second Affiliated Hospital of Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot 010030, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China

  • Received:2022-04-09 Accepted:2022-06-15 Online:2023-06-28 Published:2022-09-19

  • Contact: Xing Wenhua, MD, Professor, Chief physician, Master’s supervisor, Second Affiliated Hospital of Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot 010030, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China

  • About author:Gao Xu, Master candidate, Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot 010030, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China

  • Supported by:

    Science and Technology Planning Project of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, No. 2019GG076 (to XWH); Graduate Research in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Innovation Fund Project, No. S202102039Z (to GX)


Abstract: BACKGROUND: As the central axis of the human body, the spine is the pillar of the body and has functions such as weight-bearing, shock absorption, protection and movement. When spinal disorders occur, it often leads to serious consequences such as appearance deformity, back pain, lower extremity pain and even paralysis. The application of finite element method in spine surgery can carry out modeling and mechanical analysis of spine diseases, and provide a research method for the pathogenesis, treatment plan and prognosis of spine diseases.
OBJECTIVE: To review the application status of finite element analysis method in various types of spinal diseases.
METHODS: The articles about finite element analysis and spinal diseases published in PubMed, CNKI and Wanfang databases were searched by computer. The articles were published from 2012 to 2022. The search terms were: “finite element method, spine, scoliosis, spinal fracture, intervertebral disk degeneration, osteoporosis, biomechanics, review” in Chinese and English. Finally, 53 articles were included for review.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: (1) Finite element analysis method is to use mathematical approximation to simulate the real physical system (geometry and load conditions). Using simple interacting elements (i.e., cells), a finite number of unknowns can be used to approximate a real system with infinite unknowns. (2) Finite element analysis has become a powerful tool in the field of spine surgery, enabling surgeons to more intuitively understand the biology of the spine under physiological and pathological conditions. (3) The construction of a patient’s personalized finite element model can be used for patient condition assessment and preoperative and intraoperative planning, so as to avoid nerve, muscle and vascular damage. (4) Since the finite element analysis method is only a digital simulation of real conditions, it cannot accurately simulate the actual situation in the body, and there are many features that cannot be represented by the finite element method. (5) At present, most spine models are studied with adult spine stiffness properties, which lack the material properties of young spines, which can reduce the accuracy of research on developmental spine diseases. Spine models of different age groups should be established to study the material properties of spines of different age groups.
Key words: finite element method, spine, scoliosis, spinal fracture, disc degeneration, osteoporosis, biomechanics, review


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