UK Chiropractic Research Council Funded Collaboration Leads to New Advance in the Assessment of Spinal Stresses

Using the AECC University College’s new open, upright MRI scanner and its Quantitative Fluoroscopy technology, the University College’s Centre for Biomechanics Research (CBR) has collaborated with the School of Physics at Exeter University to develop a method for measuring the stresses between vertebrae in living patients. This combines motion sequences obtained with fluoroscopy, with image information from 3-D MRI, which is transferred into Finite Element Models (mathematical models using the dimensions and material properties of the spine).

The results of their research, which was funded by the Chiropractic Research Council of the UK, will be published in the Journal of Biomechanics in an article called: “Estimation of in vivo inter-vertebral loading during motion using fluoroscopic and magnetic resonance image informed finite element models”.

This is the first time it has been possible to estimate the stresses between the linkages of the human spine in living people using this method.  It is the result of a unique collaboration between Dr Judith Meakin, Senior Lecturer in Physics and Director of the Exeter Magnetic Resonance Research Centre, her PhD student Sahand Zanjani-Pour and Dr Alex Breen and Professor Alan Breen working here at the CBR. 

Now that the method has been developed, it can be used and further validated by scientists in the field of biomechanics for the clinical investigation of mechanical disorders of the spine.  This is likely to have profound diagnostic benefits for health professionals who diagnose mechanical spinal problems, and their patients. The benefactors could include spinal surgeons, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors.