Background: The cervical spine is the most vulnerable part of the vertebral column and the rotational movements are the most dangerous movements which may cause damages to cervical spine. A good treatment option for the cervical disc disease is the replacement of a damaged disc with an artificial disc that has shown satisfactory clinical results.
Methods: The C4 to C6 vertebrae of a normal subject and a person with an artificial disc between the vertebrae C5 and C6 were 3d modelled and then analyzed using FEM. The results of stress and deformationin both subjects were calculated and compared for three rotational head movements: axial rotation, flexion and extension. A distributed load of 73.6 N was used to simulate the head weight and a moment of 1.8 N.m was used to create all three rotational movements.
Results: The maximum Von Mises stress in the normal subject during the axial rotation was respectively 2.2 and 1.8 times greater than the maximum stress during flexion and extension. These numbers were 2.6 and 2.3 in the subject with artificial disc.Following the artificial disc replacement, the cervical spine strength against the extension improved about 2.7%, however, the strength in axial rotation and flexion decreased 6.9% and 24.3%, respectively. The maximum values of deformation in the normal subject during flexion, extension and axial rotation were 2.8, 2.8 and 2 times of the values in the subject with artificial disc during the similar movements.
Conclusion: The flexion and extension involve risks of hurting the cervical spine, however, the axial rotation is much more dangerous regarding the damages it may cause especially to the C5/6 intervertebral disc. Numerically, there is a much greater possibility of cervical spine injury during axial rotation.
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