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Fubing Liu, Zhenzhou Feng, Tianze Liu, Qinming Fei, Chun Jiang, Yuanchao Li, Xiaoxing Jiang and Jian Dong

OBJECT

This study sought to make a biomechanical comparison of 3 different posterior fixation techniques for 2-level lumbar spinal disorders.

METHODS

Eight fresh-frozen human cadaver lumbar spines (4 from L-1 to L-5, 4 from L-1 to S-1) were tested by applying pure moments of ± 8 Nm. Each specimen was first tested intact, and then the left facetectomies of L3–4 and L4–5 were performed to establish an unstable condition without removal of discs. Three instrumentation systems were then tested randomly: unilateral pedicle screw (UPS), UPS with contralateral translaminar facet screw (UPSFS), and bilateral pedicle screw (BPS). The range of motion (ROM) and the neutral zone (NZ) of L3–5 were measured.

RESULTS

All fixation types could reduce the ROM of L3–5 significantly in flexion, extension, and lateral bending, compared with the intact state. In axial torsion, only BPS reduced the ROM significantly, compared with the intact state. The UPSFS technique provided intermediate stability, which was superior to the UPS in flexion-extension and lateral bending, and inferior to the BPS in lateral bending. Compared with the intact state, the NZs decreased significantly for UPS, UPSFS, and BPS in flexion-extension, while not significantly in lateral bending and axial torsion.

CONCLUSIONS

In this study, among the 3 fixation techniques, BPS offered the highest stability, UPSFS provided intermediate stability, and UPS was the least stable for 2-level lumbar spinal disorders. UPSFS appeared to be able to offer a less invasive choice than BPS in well-selected patients with 2-level lumbar spinal disorders.