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  • Author or Editor: Neil A. Phillips x
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Nestor G. Rodriguez-Martinez, Amey Savardekar, Eric W. Nottmeier, Stephen Pirris, Phillip M. Reyes, Anna G. U. S. Newcomb, George A. C. Mendes, Samuel Kalb, Nicholas Theodore and Neil R. Crawford


Transvertebral screws provide stability in thoracic spinal fixation surgeries, with their use mainly limited to patients who require a pedicle screw salvage technique. However, the biomechanical impact of transvertebral screws alone, when they are inserted across 2 vertebral bodies, has not been studied. In this study, the authors assessed the stability offered by a transvertebral screw construct for posterior instrumentation and compared its biomechanical performance to that of standard bilateral pedicle screw and rod (PSR) fixation.


Fourteen fresh human cadaveric thoracic spine segments from T-6 to T-11 were divided into 2 groups with similar ages and bone quality. Group 1 received transvertebral screws across 2 levels without rods and subsequently with interconnecting bilateral rods at 3 levels (T8–10). Group 2 received bilateral PSR fixation and were sequentially tested with interconnecting rods at T7–8 and T9–10, at T8–9, and at T8–10. Flexibility tests were performed on intact and instrumented specimens in both groups. Presurgical and postsurgical O-arm 3D images were obtained to verify screw placement.


The mean range of motion (ROM) per motion segment with transvertebral screws spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 66% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p = 0.013), 69% during lateral bending (p = 0.015), and 47% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment with PSR spanning 2 levels compared with the intact condition was 38% of the mean intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 57% during lateral bending (p = 0.007), and 27% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). Adding bilateral rods to the 3 levels with transvertebral screws decreased the mean ROM per motion segment to 28% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 37% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 30% during axial rotation (p < 0.001). The mean ROM per motion segment for PSR spanning 3 levels was 21% of intact ROM during flexion-extension (p < 0.001), 33% during lateral bending (p < 0.001), and 22% during axial rotation (p < 0.001).


Biomechanically, fixation with a novel technique in the thoracic spine involving transvertebral screws showed restoration of stability to well within the stability provided by PSR fixation.

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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


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.


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.


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%.


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.