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research-article

Collagen Organization in Facet Capsular Ligaments Varies with Spinal Region and with Ligament Deformation

[+] Author and Article Information
Ehsan Ban

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania 211 LRSM, 3231 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104
ehsan.ban@gmail.com

Sijia Zhang

Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 S. 33rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
sijiaz@seas.upenn.edu

Vahhab Zarei

Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities 7-105 Nils Hasselmo Hall, 312 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
zarei004@umn.edu

Victor H. Barocas

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities 7-105 Nils Hasselmo Hall, 312 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455
baroc001@umn.edu

Beth A. Winkelstein

Departments of Bioengineering and Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania 240 Skirkanich Hall, 210 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104
winkelst@seas.upenn.edu

Catalin R. Picu

Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 2048 Jonsson Engineering Center, 110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180
picuc@rpi.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4036019 History: Received December 15, 2016; Revised February 01, 2017

Abstract

The spinal facet capsular ligament (FCL) is primarily comprised of heterogeneous arrangements of collagen fibers. This complex fibrous structure and its evolution under loading play a critical role in determining the mechanical behavior of the FCL. A lack of analytical tools to characterize the spatial anisotropy and heterogeneity of the FCL's microstructure has limited the current understanding of its structure-function relationships. Here, the collagen organization was characterized using spatial correlation analysis of its optically-obtain fiber orientation field. FCLs from the cervical and lumbar spinal regions were characterized in terms of their structure, as was the reorganization of collagen in stretched cervical FCLs. Higher degrees of intra- and inter-sample heterogeneity were found in cervical FCLs than in lumbar specimens. In the cervical FCLs, heterogeneity was manifested in the form of wavy patterns formed by collections of collagen fiber or fiber bundles. Tensile stretch, a common injury mechanism for the cervical FCL, significantly increased the spatial correlation length in the stretch direction, indicating an elongation of the observed structural features. Lastly, an affine estimation for the change of correlation lengths under loading was performed and gave predictions very similar to the actual values. These findings provide structural insights for multiscale mechanical analysis of the FCLs from various spinal regions and also suggest methods for quantitative characterization of complex tissue patterns.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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