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Seventy-five percent (75%) of all adults will experience low back pain secondary to pathologies in the lumbar spine at some point in their lifetime, with an annual total cost exceeding $100 billion in the United States alone. Pathology and pain are often related to abnormal biomechanics of the spine. However it remains a big challenge to non-invasively study spine biomechanics in vivo due to the complexity in geometry, limitations in technology, and risks in measurement.
Under the direction of Dr. Guoan Li and Dr. Kirkham Wood, the Spine group works closely with surgeons and visiting scholars to investigate in vivo biomechanics and clinical problems of the human spine non-invasively. We employ both experimental system and computational methods to quantify the biomechanics of healthy and pathological spine. One aspect of our studies focuses on the determination of in vivo spine kinematics using a novel combined dual fluoroscopic and magnetic resonance imaging technique. Another aspect of our studies focused on the evaluation of in vivo intervertebral disc deformation, facets contact and joint forces using finite element analysis and kinematic models of the spine. The studies have provided critical data for understanding the spine motion, the biomechanical mechanisms of pathologies and provided scientific basis for improvements to current surgical modalities.
In the combined technique, MRI was used to create 3D lumbar spine models. And DFIS can capture 2D snap shots of the in-vivo motion of the lumbar spine, up to 30 fps. Combining these two through a 3D to 2D registration, as you can see here, based on the anatomic features, the in-vivo 3D spine kinematics can be accurately reproduced.
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