Theoretical model of a piezoelectric composite spinal fusion interbody implant

Nicholas E. Tobaben, John P. Domann, Paul M. Arnold, Elizabeth A. Friis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Failure rates of spinal fusion are high in smokers and diabetics. The authors are investigating the development of a piezoelectric composite biomaterial and interbody device design that could generate clinically relevant levels of electrical stimulation to help improve the rate of fusion for these patients. A lumped parameter model of the piezoelectric composite implant was developed based on a model that has been utilized to successfully predict power generation for piezoceramics. Seven variables (fiber material, matrix material, fiber volume fraction, fiber aspect ratio, implant cross-sectional area, implant thickness, and electrical load resistance) were parametrically analyzed to determine their effects on power generation within reasonable implant constraints. Influences of implant geometry and fiber aspect ratio were independent of material parameters. For a cyclic force of constant magnitude, implant thickness was directly and cross-sectional area inversely proportional to power generation potential. Fiber aspect ratios above 30 yielded maximum power generation potential while volume fractions above 15% showed superior performance. This investigation demonstrates the feasibility of using composite piezoelectric biomaterials in medical implants to generate therapeutic levels of direct current electrical stimulation. The piezoelectric spinal fusion interbody implant shows promise for helping increase success rates of spinal fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)975-981
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • composite
  • electrical stimulation
  • fusion
  • piezoelectric
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Metals and Alloys

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