Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Engineering Science

Major Professor

Richard D. Komistek

Committee Members

Jack F. Wasserman, Mohamed R. Mahfouz


In vivo motions of normal and degenerative lumbar spine patients performing extension/flexion were obtained using video fluoroscopy. 3-D models of each patient’s vertebrae were registered to the 2-D fluoroscopy images using a process developed at Rocky Mountain Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory. Temporal equations representing the motions were input into a math model and the forces at the contact point between vertebral levels and the body torques between the vertebrae were the output. The vertical forces in the normal and degenerative patients were similar and ranged from 0.35-0.42 times the body weight of the patient. The maximum torques were higher in the degenerative patient than in the normal patient. The maximum torques between L4 and L5 were 11.1 N*m in the degenerative patient and 9.72 N*m in the normal patient. At L3/L4, the maximum torque was 10.3 N*m in the degenerative and 9.03 N*m in the normal patient. The maximum torques in the degenerative patient were also higher than in the normal patient at the L2/L3 and L1/L2 levels. Left untreated these higher torques could cause deterioration of other levels as the spine tries to compensate for existing degenerative levels. This model will lead to a better understanding of the lumbar spine and could aid in treating lower back pain and in the design of spinal prostheses.

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