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Matthew Mantell, Mathew Cyriac, Colin M. Haines, Manasa Gudipally, and Joseph R. O’Brien


Insufficient biomechanical data exist from comparisons of the stability of expandable lateral cages with that of static transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) cages. The purpose of this biomechanical study was to compare the relative rigidity of L4–5 expandable lateral interbody constructs with or without additive pedicle screw fixation with that of L4–5 static TLIF cages in a novel cadaveric spondylolisthesis model.


Eight human cadaver spines were used in this study. A spondylolisthesis model was created at the L4–5 level by creating 2 injuries. First, in each cadaver, a nucleotomy from 2 channels through the anterior side was created. Second, the cartilage of the facet joint was burred down to create a gap of 4 mm. Light-emitting-diode tracking markers were placed at L-3, L-4, L-5, and S-1. Specimens were tested in the following scenarios: intact model, bilateral pedicle screws, expandable lateral 18-mm-wide cage (alone, with unilateral pedicle screws [UPSs], and with bilateral pedicle screws [BPSs]), expandable lateral 22-mm-wide cage (alone, with UPSs, and with BPSs), and TLIF (alone, with UPSs, and with BPSs). Four of the spines were tested with the expandable lateral cages (18-mm cage followed by the 22-mm cage), and 4 of the spines were tested with the TLIF construct. All these constructs were tested in flexion-extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending.


The TLIF-alone construct was significantly less stable than the 18- and 22-mm-wide lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) constructs and the TLIF constructs with either UPSs or BPSs. The LLIF constructs alone were significantly less stable than the TLIF construct with BPSs. However, there was no significant difference between the 18-mm LLIF construct with UPSs and the TLIF construct with BPSs in any of the loading modes.


Expandable lateral cages with UPSs provide stability equivalent to that of a TLIF construct with BPSs in a degenerative spondylolisthesis model.