The Universal Clamp Spinal Fixation System (UC) is a novel sublaminar connection for the spine that is currently used in conjunction with pedicle screws at the thoracic levels for the correction of scoliosis. This device allows the surgeon to attach rods and incorporate a pedicle screw construction. The flexible composition of the UC should provide flexibility intermediate to the uninstrumented spine and an all-screw construct. This hypothesis was tested in vitro using nondestructive flexibility testing of human cadaveric spine segments.
Six unembalmed human cadaveric thoracic spine segments from T-3 to T-11 were used. The specimens were tested under the following conditions: 1) intact; 2) after bilateral screws were placed at T4-T10 and interconnected with longitudinal rods; 3) after placement of a hybrid construction with screws at T-4, T-7, and T-10 with an interconnecting rod on one side and screws at T-4 and T-10 with the UC at T5–9 on the contralateral side; (4) after bilateral screws were placed at T-4 and T-10 and interconnected with rods and bilateral UC were placed at T5–9; and 5) after bilateral screws at T-4 and T-10 were placed and interconnected with rods and bilateral sublaminar cables were placed at T5–9. Pure moments of 6.0 Nm were applied while optoelectronically recording 3D angular motion.
Bilateral UC placement and bilateral sublaminar cables both resulted in a significantly greater range of motion than bilateral pedicle screws during lateral bending and axial rotation, but not during flexion or extension. There were no differences in stability between bilateral UC and bilateral cables. The construct with limited screws on one side and UC contralaterally showed comparable stability to bilateral UC and bilateral cables.
These results support using the UC as a therapeutic option for spinal stabilization because it allows comparable stability to the sublaminar cables and provides flexibility intermediate to that of the uninstrumented spine and an all-screw construct. Equivalent stability of the hybrid, bilateral UC, and bilateral cable constructs indicates that 6-level UC provides stability comparable to that of a limited (3-point) pedicle screw-rod construct.