About this Research Topic
The human spine has to guarantee a relatively large range of motion, and at the same time has to provide structural stability to the body under different physiological conditions. This compromise has been achieved through the evolutionary process by a unique structural combination of hard and soft tissues, that provide the flexibility and stability required for handling the large range of physiological loading the spine is subjected to. These biological tissues have complex heterogeneous, anisotropic, nonlinear, and hierarchical properties, making their biomechanical characterization difficult.
Nevertheless, aging, diseases, and injuries affect the biomechanical stability of the spine, leading to fractures of the vertebrae or degeneration of the intervertebral discs, which induce pain and disability in patients. Different interventions are available to fix the affected tissues, from pharmacological treatments to invasive and minimally invasive surgeries. However, due to the complexity of the microstructure and material properties of the tissues that compose the spine, the assessment of the effect of disease progression and of the efficacy of the treatments on the spine's biomechanical properties are not trivial.
Experimental tools such as complex loading rigs, strain analyses with strain gauges, digital image correlation, and digital volume correlation have been used to characterize the biomechanical properties of the spine at different dimensional levels, but they lack the flexibility of testing the same structure in different loading conditions until fracture. Nevertheless, they are invaluable to validate the outputs of computational models and to increase their credibility for clinical applications.
Computational models can be used to evaluate the biomechanical properties of the spine in healthy subjects, in patients with diseases such as (but not only) osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, bone metastases, burst fractures, and to optimize the related treatments. However, before their clinical application, they should go through a strict process for increasing their credibility, based on model verification, validation, and sensitivity analyses. There are a number of research challenges to overcome in order to identify the best modeling strategies for studying spine biomechanics as, for example:
-multi-body dynamics models for evaluation of range of motion, load distribution, muscle forces, and activation;
-detailed structural modeling approaches to evaluate the mechanical properties of single vertebrae or intervertebral discs or a combination of them in spine units or larger portions of the spine;
-cell-tissue level models to predict the evolution of the disease and pharmacological interventions on the biomechanical properties of the spine;
-multiscale models to account for the effect of different loading condition of the tissue remodeling;
-generalized models for analyses of population data versus subject-specific models based on detailed medical images for the personalization of treatments;
-gain model credibility (verification, validation, sensitivity analyses) for the assessment of the efficacy of treatments.
This Research Topic aims to attract Methods, Original Research, Brief Reports, and Review papers from worldwide specialists in the computational modeling of spine biomechanics. It will offer a unique collection of knowledge and discussions for the improvement of current techniques or the development of new modeling approaches for studying the biomechanics of the spine. Experimental studies that have been developed for the validation of computational modeling are also invited.
Important Note: All submissions/contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the journal/section they are submitted to. While authors are encouraged to draw from other disciplines to enrich their papers where relevant, they must ensure papers fall within the scope of the journal/section, as expressed in its mission statement.
Keywords: Computational Model, Spine, Verification, Validation, Treatment
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.