Object. The authors conducted a study in which their objective was to measure the effect of tears in the annulus fibrosus on the motions of lumbar spinal motion segments.
Methods. Lumbar spinal motion segments were harvested from human cadavers and studied using a 1.5-tesla magnetic resonance imager. The motion segments were subjected to incremental flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral bending torques. Displacements and rotations were measured using a kinematic system. The segments were sectioned on a cryomicrotome to verify the presence of tears in the annulus fibrosus.
Conclusions. Tears in the annulus fibrosus increase the amount of motion that results from a torque applied to the motion segment. Radial and transverse tears of the annulus fibrosus have a greater effect on motions produced by an axial rotatory torque than on those produced by flexion, extension, or lateral bending torques. The difference between normal discs and discs with annular tears is more marked during moments of axial rotational than during those of flexion, extension, or lateral bending.