Convergence analysis and validation of a discrete element model of the human lumbar spine

  • Galina Eremina Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science SB RAS, Tomsk, Russia
  • Alexey Smolin Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science SB RAS, Tomsk, Russia
  • Irina Martyshina Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science SB RAS, Tomsk, Russia
Keywords: Intervertebral disc, Vertebral body, Model verification and validation, Movable cellular automaton method


Degenerative diseases of the spine can lead to or hasten the onset of additional spinal problems that significantly reduce human mobility. The spine consists of vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs. The most degraded are intervertebral discs. The vertebral body consists of a shell (cortical bone tissue) and an internal content (cancellous bone tissue). The intervertebral disc is a complex structural element of the spine, consisting of the nucleus pulposus, annulus fibrosus, and cartilaginous plates. To develop numerical models for the vertebral body and intervertebral disc, first, it is necessary to verify and validate the models for the constituent elements of the lumbar spine. This paper, for the first time, presents discrete elements-based numerical models for the constituent parts of the lumbar spine, and their verification and validation. The models are validated using uniaxial compression experiments available in the literature. The model predictions are in good qualitative and quantitative agreement with the data of those experiments. The loading rate sensitivity analysis revealed that fluid-saturated porous materials are highly sensitive to loading rate: a 1000-fold increase in rate leads to the increase in effective stiffness of 130 % for the intervertebral disc, and a 250-fold increase in rate leads to the increase in effective stiffness of 50 % for the vertebral body. The developed model components can be used to create an L4-L5 segment model, which, in the future, will allow investigating the mechanical behavior of the spine under different types of loading.


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How to Cite
Eremina, G., Smolin, A., & Martyshina, I. (2022). Convergence analysis and validation of a discrete element model of the human lumbar spine. Reports in Mechanical Engineering, 3(1), 62-70.