Dehydration may cause undesirable morphological changes in small hydrated tissue with high surface-to-volume ratio during in vitro experimentation that can result in erroneous data. The lumbar facet joint cartilage, an example of such tissue, is highly susceptible to dehydration due its high content of water (60% to 80% by volume) when exposed to ambient air [1]. Recent studies involving thickness measurement of articular human and bovine cartilage from the tibial plateau reported distinct decreases in thickness due to dehydration and the importance of maintaining its hydration during biomechanical experimental studies [1–3]. Knee joint and facet joint cartilage are characterized as hyaline cartilage surrounded by synovial fluid and encased in a joint capsule. The fact that both are synovial joints suggests that facet joint cartilage may show similar dehydration rates; however, due to its smaller size and different surface-to-volume, the dehydration rate is expected to be higher for facet joint cartilage. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the rate of facet joint cartilage dehydration has not been quantified before. It is hypothesized that the facet joint cartilage thickness will decrease in an inverse exponential trend and significant changes will be seen as dehydration time intervals time increases. The objectives of this study were: 1) quantify the dimensional stability of the cartilage samples under a sequential dehydration protocol, and 2) to evaluate the cartilage shrinkage rate.

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