Sagittal Imbalance May Lead to Higher Risks of Vertebral Compression Fractures and Disc Degeneration—A Finite Element Analysis

Koji Matsumoto, Anoli Shah, Amey Kelkar, Muzammil Mumtaz, Yogesh Kumaran, Vijay K. Goel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Sagittal balance is an important clinical parameter of the spine for its normal function. Maintenance of the sagittal balance is crucial in the clinical management of spinal problems. Methods: Three different finite element models with spinal alignments based on Schwab's classification were developed: (1) Balanced/Normal model (sagittal vertical axis [SVA] = 0 mm, lumbar lordosis [LL] = 50°, thoracic kyphosis [TK] = 25°, pelvic incidence [PI] = 45°, pelvic tilt [PT] = 10°, sacral slope [SS] = 35°); (2) Balanced with compensatory mechanisms/Flatback model (SVA = 50 mm, LL = 20°, TK = 20°, PI = 45°, PT = 30°, SS = 15°); and (3) Imbalanced/Hyperkyphotic model (SVA = 150 mm, LL = -5°, TK = 25°, PI = 45°, PT = 40°, SS = 5°). All 3 models were subjected to the follower loads simulating bodyweight/muscular contractions along with the moments to simulate flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. The maximum cortical vertebral stress, annular stress, and intradiscal pressure (IDP) were calculated and compared. Results: The results showed that the hyperkyphotic model had higher stresses in the vertebrae (25% higher), the annulus fibrosus (48% higher) and the IDP (8% higher) than the normal models in flexion. The segments near the thoracolumbar junction (T10-L1) showed the highest increase in the vertebral body stress, the annulus fibrosus stress, and the IDP. Conclusions: This study showed that the imbalance in sagittal alignment might be responsible for disc degeneration and atraumatic vertebral fractures at the thoracolumbar regions, supporting clinical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e962-e971
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Adult spinal deformity
  • Finite element modeling
  • Sagittal balance
  • Schwab's classification


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