The objective of this study was to develop a finite element model (FEM) in order to study the relationship between hip flexion/extension and the sagittal curves of the spine. A previously developed FEM of the spine, rib cage and pelvis personalized to the 3D reconstructed geometry of a patient using biplanar radiographs was adapted to include the lower limbs including muscles. Simulations were performed to determine: the relationship between hip flexion / extension and lumbar lordosis / thoracic kyphosis, the mechanism of transfer between hip flexion / extension and pelvic rotation, and the influence that knee bending, muscle stiffness, and muscle mass have on the degree to which sagittal spinal curves are modified due to lower limb positioning. Preliminary results showed that the model was able to accurately reproduce published results for the modulation of lumbar lordosis due to hip flexion; which proved to linearly decrease 68% at 90°of flexion. Additional simulations showed that the hamstrings and gluteal muscles were responsible for the transmission of hip flexion to pelvic rotation with the legs straight and flexed respectively, and the important influence of knee bending on lordosis modulation during lower limb positioning. The knowledge gained through this study is intended to be used to improve operative patient positioning.
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