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PhD studentship, In vivo measurement of strains in intervertebral discs

Chris W Smith's picture

I'm pleased to offer applications for a PhD studentship on measurement of strains in vivo in intervertebral discs at the University of Exeter. It will be co-supervised by myself on (the mechanics side) and Dr J Meakin (on the medical imaging side).

Experience with optical strain measurement (eg DIC, virtual fields method etc), reverse engineering problems and/or finite elements would be desirable. Tax free stipend of approx 14.5k GBP, funding only covers registration fees for EU nationals (ie non-EU nationals must find extra funding at circa 9k GBP per year for 3 years)

Contact me in the first place

Chris Smith

- Project description -
Degenerative changes in the
intervertebral discs of the spine, although common due to natural aging, can
present as severe pain and biomechanical dysfunction which requires surgical
intervention. Determining the pattern of strain in the discs in vivo may allow us to elucidate the
biomechanical reasons why some people experience more severe disc degeneration
than others and help in developing appropriate treatment strategies and better
replacement devices. A potential method to measure in vivo strains is to
acquire magnetic resonance (MR) or computer tomography (CT) images of the discs
in and apply image analysis techniques such as digital image correlation (2D)
and digital volume correlation (3D). These methods, although used by other researchers
to measure surface strains on isolated discs, have not been applied to images
of the disc's interior which is markedly inhomogeneous.
The proposed project aims to develop experimental
and image analysis methods for use in
vivo using medical imaging methods. Images of isolated discs (from
non-human model such as equine) will be acquired using MRI and CT facilities in
Physics and Engineering. Mechanical testing rigs will be used to apply known
boundary conditions to homogenous phantom and real discs and image analysis will
be used to determine the pattern of strain distribution in the discs. Once the methods have
been developed they will be applied to 3D image data from human intervertebral
discs acquired in vivo to begin to
explore the normal variation in the patterns of strain distributions in discs
as the subjects change posture and support load.
The end point of this project will be
a suite of experimental and analytical methods validated for measurement of 3D
strains in intervertebral discs in vivo,
and publishable preliminary data on strain patterns in human subjects.
Successful completion of the project
objectives will allow subsequent research funding to be sought for a
neo-clinical project to measure disc strains in vivo in a variety of postures and loading situations, in healthy
subjects. This would determine if abnormally high strains are being experienced
in the discs of some subjects and allow correlation with clinical assessments
of accelerated degeneration.



Please check for 3d reconstruction works. 


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