Collagen fibers in the annulus fibrosus (AF) play a significant role in maintaining the disc mechanical behavior. In healthy discs, AF fibers are concentrically arranged in a zigzag fashion. Tensile loads are transmitted to these fibers when the disc is loaded in compression. As a result, disc bulging occurs. Initiation and progression of mild cervical disc degeneration (DD) has been the subject of clinical concern [1]. The mild DD is associated with structural interruption in laminar organization of fibers in partial AF regions and incomplete length of fibers is a major form of structural interruption in AF fibers [2]. Moreover, a loss of lamellar fiber structure contributes to the progression of spinal deformity [3]. Past research have documented the biomechanical role of complete length of fibers in governing a healthy disc behavior [4]; however, there is a lack of clear understanding as to how incomplete length of fibers in different AF regions affect overall disc biomechanics and how they may play a role in initiating the propagation of DD. The focus of the current study is to investigate the disc biomechanical response due to incomplete length of fibers in outer, middle, and inner AF regions.

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