Spine biomechanical testing methodologies: The controversy of consensus vs scientific evidence

John Costi, Eric Ledet, Grace O.Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


Biomechanical testing methodologies for the spine have developed over the past50 years. During that time, there have been several paradigm shifts with respect to techniques. These techniques evolved by incorporating state-of-the-art engineering principles, in vivo measurements, anatomical structure-function relationships, and the scientific method. Multiple parametric studies have focused on the effects that the experimental technique has on outcomes. As a result, testing methodologies have evolved, but there are no standard testing protocols, which makes the comparison of findings between experiments difficult and conclusions about in vivo performance challenging. In 2019, the international spine research community was surveyed to determine the consensus on spine biomechanical testing and if the consensus opinion was consistent with the scientific evidence. More than 80 responses to the survey were received. The findings of this survey confirmed that while some methods have been commonly adopted, not all are consistent with the scientific evidence. This review summarizes the scientific literature, the current consensus, and the authors' recommendations on best practices based on the compendium of available evidence
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1138
Number of pages25
JournalJOR Spine
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • biomechanics
  • consensus
  • controversy
  • in vitro
  • Mechanical testing
  • methodology
  • spine


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