Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) model can provide results comparable to cadaveric models

Thomas R. Haher, Danielle Ottaviano, Jason G. DeFrancis, Andrew Merola, Antonio Valdevit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The in vitro biomechanical models using a cadaveric spine specimen have long been used in understanding normal and abnormal functions of spines as well as for strength and stability testing of the spine specimen or spinal construct. Little effort has been made to describe the similarities or differences between UHMWPE and cadaveric models. Eight cadaveric lumbar spines were harvested generating six FSU and three corpectomy models. Six UHMWPE blocks were fabricated to form FSU and corpectomy models. All were tested intact, with posterior instrumentation, and with anterior instrumentation consisting of Moss-Miami 4.0 mm stainless steel rods, uni-axial stainless steel screws and DePuy Harm's cages. All models were tested in axial compression. The cadaveric model and UHMPWE model yielded axial stiffness values of comparable magnitude with respect to instrumentation applied using the posterior approach (P > 0.05). Under an FSU configuration, only in the case of anterior instrumentation without the addition of a Harm's cage did both the cadaveric and UHMPWE models provide comparable axial stiffness results (P > 0.05). While in vitro cadaveric models are considered the gold standard for biomechanical testing of the spine, the data suggests that under specific approaches and surgical models UHMWPE can be used to infer mechanical performance of instrumentation in cadaveric material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
JournalBio-Medical Materials and Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Corpectomy
  • FSU
  • Loading
  • Stiffness


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