Effect of disc degeneration at one level on the adjacent level in axial mode

Young E. Kim, Vijay K. Goel*, James Neil Weinstein, Tae Hong Lim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Nonlinear three-dimensional finite element models of a ligamentous two motion segments spine specimen (L3- L4-L5) were developed to investigate the effects of disc degeneration, simulated at the L4-L5 level, on the biome-chanical behavior of the adjacent intact L3-L4 motion segment. The disc degeneration was simulated by remov-ing the hydrostatic capabilities of the nucleus and making the L4-L5 disc stiffer than a normal disc. The results of the degenerated model were compared with the predictions for a model in which the L4-L5 disc was left intact. The loads on the facets decreased, and intradiscal pressure in the intact L3-L4 disc increased as a result of disc degeneration compared with the intact model. The pre-dicted increase in the intradiscal pressure and the asso-ciated increase in the disc bulge in the posterior region over time may trigger the degenerative process at the L3-L4 motion segment. This is in accordance with the Wolff’s law; living tissue responds to chronic changes in stresses and strains. The limitations of the present two motion segments model and the potentials of multiseg- mental models are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-335
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1991


  • Disc degeneration
  • Facet loads
  • Intradiscal pressure
  • Multisegmental finite element models
  • Spine biomechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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