The effect of fatty infiltration, revision surgery, and sex on lumbar multifidus passive mechanical properties

Bahar Shahidi, Jennifer A. Padwal, Jeannie J. Su, Gilad Regev, Vinko Zlomislic, R. Todd Allen, Steven R. Garfin, Choll Kim, Richard L. Lieber, Samuel R. Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Previous research has demonstrated increased stiffness in the multifidus muscle compared to other paraspinal muscles at the fiber bundle level. We aimed to compare single fiber and fiber bundle passive mechanical properties of multifidus muscle: (1) in 40 patients undergoing primary versus revision surgery and (2) in muscle with mild versus severe fatty infiltration. Methods: The degree of muscle fatty infiltration was graded using the patients' spine magnetic resonance images. Average single fiber and fiber bundle passive mechanical properties across three tests were compared between primary (N = 30) and revision (N = 10) surgery status, between mild and severe fatty infiltration levels, between sexes, and with age from passive stress–strain tests of excised multifidus muscle intraoperative biopsies. Results: At the single fiber level, elastic modulus was unaffected by degree of fatty infiltration or surgery status. Female sex (p = 0.001) and younger age (p = 0.04) were associated with lower multifidus fiber elastic modulus. At the fiber bundle level, which includes connective tissue around fibers, severe fatty infiltration (p = 0.01) and younger age (p = 0.06) were associated with lower elastic modulus. Primary surgery also demonstrated a moderate, but non-significant effect for lower elastic modulus (p = 0.10). Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that female sex is the primary driver for reduced single fiber elastic modulus of the multifidus, while severity of fatty infiltration is the primary driver for reduced elastic modulus at the level of the fiber bundle in individuals with lumbar spine pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1266
JournalJOR Spine
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • fat infiltration
  • multifidus muscle
  • paraspinal muscle
  • passive mechanics
  • spine
  • spine surgery

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