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A finite-element study and in vitro experimental validation was performed for a parametric investigation of features that contribute to burst fracture risk in the metastatically involved spine.To develop and validate a three-dimensional poroelastic model of a metastatically compromised vertebral segment, to evaluate the effect of lytic lesions on vertebral strains and pressures, and to determine the influence of loading and motion segment status (bone density, pedicle involvement, disc degeneration, and tumor size) on the relative risk of burst fracture initiation.Finite-element analysis has been used successfully to predict failure loads and fracture patterns for bone. Although models for vertebra affected with tumors have been presented, these have not been thoroughly validated experimentally. Consequently, their predictive capabilities remain uncertain.A three-dimensional poroelastic finite-element model of the first lumbar vertebra and adjacent intervertebral discs, including a tumor of variable size, was developed. To validate the model, 12 cadaver spinal motion segments were tested in axial compression, in intact condition, and with simulated osteolytic defects. Features of the validated model were parametrically varied to investigate the effects of tumor size, trabecular bone density, pedicle involvement, applied loads, loading rates, and disc degeneration using outcome variables of vertebral bulge and vertebral axial deformation.Consistent trends between the experimental data and model predictions were observed. Overall, the model results suggest that tumor size contributes most toward the risk of initiating burst fracture, followed by the applied load magnitude and bone density.The parametric analysis suggests that the principal factors affecting the initiation of burst fracture in metastatically affected vertebrae are tumor size, magnitude of spinal loading, and bone density. Consequently, patient-specific measures of these factors should be factored into decisions regarding clinical prophylaxis. Pedicle involvement or disc degeneration was less important according to the outcome measures in this study.