The human cervical spine facet joint capsule was modeled using four nonlinear finite element approaches: slideline, contact surface, hyperelastic, and fluid models. Slideline elements and contact surface definitions were used in the first two models to simulate the synovial fluid between the articulating cartilages. Incompressible solid elements approximated the synovial fluid in the hyperelastic model. Hydrostatic fluid elements idealized the synovial fluid in the fluid model. The finite element analysis incorporated geometric, material and contact nonlinearities. All models were subjected to compression, flexion, extension, and lateral bending. The fluid model idealization better approximates the actual facet joint anatomy and its behavior than the gap assumption in the slideline and contact surface models, and the solid element simulation in the hyperelastic model.
Keywords: Cervical spine; Facet joint; Finite element model