EU research results


English EN
Comprehensive experimental and computational mechanical characterisation of metastatic vertebrae

Comprehensive experimental and computational mechanical characterisation of metastatic vertebrae


Lytic spinal metastases are frequent in cancer patients and can weaken vertebrae, increasing the risk of fracture and leading to spine instability. Qualitative scoring systems are used by oncologists and orthopaedic surgeons to decide if the metastatic vertebrae need to be surgically treated. However these guidelines are not accurate for all those patients with middle-size lesions. An accurate, quantitative and mechanistic computational model would improve the prediction of the risk of fracture in these patients. However, such models need first to be validated against well-controlled expertiments in the laboratory.
METASPINE will deliver for the first time a method to comprehensively understand the effect of the properties of bone lesions on the mechanical competence of metastatic vertebrae.
In this project, lytic defects will be experimentally reproduced in the vertebrae, which will be tested under multi-axial loading conditions in order to evaluate the effect of the lesions on the displacement and strain fields distributions. A combination of state of the art in situ mechanical testing, microCT imaging and Digital Volume Correlation will be used. Simultaneously, subject specific clinical CT based finite element models of the metastatic vertebrae will be generated, validated against the experimental data, and used to simulate scenarios which cannot be reproduced experimentally.
The applicant (Dr Marco Palanca) is a research fellow in the field of experimental spine biomechanics. He will apply his experimental skills to optimise the sample preparation, and mechanical testing. Moreover, the supervision, mentoring, and training provided by the host organization (University of Sheffield, Dr Dall’Ara and Integrative Musculoskeletal Biomechanics group) on imaging and subject-specific finite element modelling will complete his profile as a bioengineer with a specialization in tumour and spine biomechanics.
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries




Firth Court Western Bank
S10 2tn Sheffield

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 212 933,76

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 832430


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 212 933,76

  • EU contribution

    € 212 933,76

Coordinated by:


United Kingdom