Effects of Collagen Crosslink Augmentation on Mechanism of Compressive Load Sharing in Intervertebral Discs
Thomas P. Hedman,
Exogenous crosslinking has been shown to have potential for treating disc degeneration and back pain due to its ability to increase the strength and toughness of the annulus fibrosus, increase intervertebral joint stability, decrease intradiscal pressure, and increase fluid flow through the disc. Some results imply that crosslink augmentation may also lead to changes in the compressive load sharing properties of the disc. The objective of the present study was to evaluate directional stress distribution changes of the disc following genipin crosslinking treatment. Bovine lumbar motion segments were randomly divided into control and crosslinked groups. Annular strains were determined from simultaneous deformation measurements at various time points during compressive creep testing. Four stress components of the annulus were then calculated according to the previously measured modulus data. Immediately after the application of a 750-N compressive load, mean axial and radial compressive stresses in the crosslinked group were twofold higher than control means. Conversely, mean lamellae-aligned and circumferential tensile stresses of the crosslinked discs were 8- and threefold lower, respectively, compared to control means. After 1-h creep loading, the two compressive mean stresses in both the control and genipin-crosslinked specimens increased approximately threefold from their initial 750-N-loaded values. The two tensile mean stresses in the crosslinked group remained lower than the respective levels of the control means after creep loading. A greater proportion of annular compressive load support under compressive creep loading, with a commensurate decrease in both tensile stresses and strains, was seen in the discs following exogenous crosslink augmentation.