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  • Author or Editor: Neil A. Phillips x
  • By Author: Baaj, Ali A. x
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Ali A. Baaj, Phillip M. Reyes, Ali S. Yaqoobi, Juan S. Uribe, Fernando L. Vale, Nicholas Theodore, Volker K. H. Sonntag and Neil R. Crawford

Object

Unstable fractures at the thoracolumbar junction often require extended, posterior, segmental pedicular fixation. Some surgeons have reported good clinical outcomes with short-segment constructs if additional pedicle screws are inserted at the fractured level. The goal of this study was to quantify the biomechanical advantage of the index-level screw in a fracture model.

Methods

Six human cadaveric T10–L4 specimens were tested. A 3-column injury at L-1 was simulated, and 4 posterior constructs were tested as follows: one-above-one-below (short construct) with/without index-level screws, and two-above-two-below (long construct) with/without index-level screws. Pure moments were applied quasistatically while 3D motion was measured optoelectronically. The range of motion (ROM) and lax zone across T12–L2 were measured during flexion, extension, left and right lateral bending, and left and right axial rotation.

Results

All constructs significantly reduced the ROM and lax zone in the fractured specimens. With or without index-level screws, the long-segment constructs provided better immobilization than the short-segment constructs during all loading modes. Adding an index-level screw to the short-segment construct significantly improved stability during flexion and lateral bending; there was no significant improvement in stability when an index-level screw was added to the long-segment construct. Overall, bilateral index-level screws decreased the ROM of the 1-level construct by 25% but decreased the ROM of the 2-level construct by only 3%.

Conclusions

In a fracture model, adding index-level pedicle screws to short-segment constructs improves stability, although stability remains less than that provided by long-segment constructs with or without index-level pedicle screws. Therefore, highly unstable fractures likely require extended, long-segment constructs for optimum stability.

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Dean G. Karahalios, Taro Kaibara, Randall W. Porter, Udaya K. Kakarla, Phillip M. Reyes, Ali A. Baaj, Ali S. Yaqoobi and Neil R. Crawford

Object

An interspinous anchor (ISA) provides fixation to the lumbar spine to facilitate fusion. The biomechanical stability provided by the Aspen ISA was studied in applications utilizing an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) construct.

Methods

Seven human cadaveric L3–S1 specimens were tested in the following states: 1) intact; 2) after placing an ISA at L4–5; 3) after ALIF with an ISA; 4) after ALIF with an ISA and anterior screw/plate fixation system; 5) after removing the ISA (ALIF with plate only); 6) after removing the plate (ALIF only); and 7) after applying bilateral pedicle screws and rods. Pure moments (7.5 Nm maximum) were applied in flexion and extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation while recording angular motion optoelectronically. Changes in angulation as well as foraminal height were also measured.

Results

All instrumentation variances except ALIF alone reduced angular range of motion (ROM) significantly from normal in all directions of loading. The ISA was most effective in limiting flexion and extension (25% of normal) and less effective in reducing lateral bending (71% of normal) and axial rotation (71% of normal). Overall, ALIF with an ISA provided stability that was statistically equivalent to ALIF with bilateral pedicle screws and rods. An ISA-augmented ALIF allowed less ROM than plate-augmented ALIF during flexion, extension, and lateral bending. Use of the ISA resulted in flexion at the index level, with a resultant increase in foraminal height. Compensatory extension at the adjacent levels prevented any significant change in overall sagittal balance.

Conclusions

When used with ALIF at L4–5, the ISA provides immediate rigid immobilization of the lumbar spine, allowing equivalent ROM to that of a pedicle screw/rod system, and smaller ROM than an anterior plate. When used with ALIF, the ISA may offer an alternative to anterior plate fixation or bilateral pedicle screw/rod constructs.