Each year, there are 375,000 spine operations performed in the U.S. including a significant number that involve fusion. This is required to compensate for the loss in mechanical stiffness due to facetectomy. Although limited experimental studies have been done to analyze the mechanical effect of facetectomies, a finite element model allows for a sequential and complete study of the mechanical consequences of this surgical procedure. The purpose of this research is to quantify the loss in motion segment stiffness resulting from partial or total facetectomy through use of an analytical model of a lumbar spinal motion segment. These data will assist clinicians in determining when spinal fusion is necessary.

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