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Biomechanical Behavior of a New Nucleus Prosthesis Made of Knitted Titanium Filaments

Annette Kettler, MD,1 Hans-Peter Kaps, PhD,2 Bodo Haegele, MD,1 Hans-Joachim Wilke, PhD

1Institute for Orthopaedic Research and Biomechanics, University of Ulm, Germany 2The Department of Orthopaedics, BG Trauma-Centre, Tuebingen, Germany



One of the greatest challenges in the development of a nucleus prosthesis is to minimize the risk of implant expulsion. At the same time, the physiological flexibility, compressive behavior, and height of the disc should be restored. In this biomechanical in vitro study we investigated the ability of a new nucleus prosthesis made of knitted titanium filaments to meet these challenges.


Flexibility, axial deformation, and height of six bovine lumbar spine segments were measured in the intact condition, after implantation of the new prosthesis, and during and after complex cyclic loading (100,000 cycles). For this purpose, six new prostheses preformed according to the shape of the bovine nucleus pulposus were manufactured. Flexibility was tested in the three main planes under pure moment loads of 7.5 Nm. Axial deformation was measured under application of an axial force of 1000 N. Radiographs taken before and after cyclic testing were used to assess implant migration and expulsion.


In lateral bending, the intact range of motion (RoM) could almost be restored after implantation. However, in axial rotation, the RoM increased slightly with the implant. This was also the case in extension, with an increase from -2.9° to -6.4°, whereas in flexion, RoM decreased from 4.3° to 3.2°. In all loading planes, cyclic loading caused the RoM to increase asymptotically by 0.1° to 1.8°. The axial deformation of the specimens was nearly equivalent in all tested states, as was their height. Cyclic loading did not cause implant expulsion.


In this feasibility study, the new knitted nucleus prosthesis showed promising results in segmental flexibility, axial deformability, height, and implant expulsion. However, further study is needed for other factors, such as wear and fatigue behavior.


lumbar spine, intervertebral disc, nucleus prosthesis, titanium, biomechanics
Volume 1 Issue 4