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Quantifying deformations and strains in human intervertebral discs using Digital Volume Correlation combined with MRI (DVC-MRI)

  • Tavana, S
  • Clark, JN
  • Prior, J
  • Baxan, N
  • Masouros, SD
  • Newell, N
  • Hansen, U
Publication Date
Dec 31, 2019
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository


Physical disruptions to intervertebral discs (IVDs) can cause mechanical changes that lead to degeneration and to low back pain which affects 75% of us in our lifetimes. Quantifying the effects of these changes on internal IVD strains may lead to better preventative strategies and treatments. Digital Volume Correlation (DVC) is a non-invasive technique that divides volumetric images into subsets, and measures strains by tracking the internal patterns within them under load. Applying DVC to MRIs may allow non-invasive strain measurements. However, DVC-MRI for strain measurements in IVDs has not been used previously. The purpose of this study was to quantify the strain and deformation errors associated with DVC-MRI for measurements in human IVDs. Eight human lumbar IVDs were MRI scanned (9.4T) for a ‘zero-strain study’ (multiple unloaded scans to quantify noise within the system), and a loaded study (2mm axial compression). Three DVC methodologies: Fast-Fourier transform (FFT), direct correlation (DC), and a combination of both FFT and DC approaches were compared with subset sizes ranging from 8 to 88 voxels to establish the optimal DVC methodology and settings which were then used in the loaded study. FFT+DC was the optimal method and a subset size of 56 voxels (2520 micrometers) was found to be a good compromise between errors and spatial resolution. Displacement and strain errors did not exceed 28 µm and 3000 microstrain, respectively. These findings demonstrate that DVC-MRI can quantify internal strains within IVDs non-invasively and accurately. The method has unique potential for assessing IVD strains within patients.

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