The objective of this study was to evaluate a novel connector design and compare it with traditional side connectors, such as a fixed-angle connector (FAC) and a variable-angle connector (VAC), with respect to lumbosacral stability and instrumentation strain.
Standard nondestructive flexibility tests (7.5 Nm) and compression tests (400 N) were performed using 7 human cadaveric specimens (L1–ilium) to compare range of motion (ROM) stability, posterior rod strain (RS), and sacral screw bending moment (SM). Directions of motion included flexion, extension, left and right lateral bending, left and right axial rotation, and compression. Conditions included 1) the standard 2-rod construct (2R); 2) the dual-tulip head (DTH) with 4-rod construct (4R); 3) FACs with 4R; and 4) VACs with 4R. Data were analyzed using repeated-measures ANOVA.
Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in ROM across the lumbosacral junction among conditions (p > 0.07). Compared with 2R, DTH and FAC significantly reduced RS in extension, left axial rotation, and compression (p ≤ 0.03). VAC significantly decreased RS compared with 2R in flexion, extension, left axial rotation, right axial rotation, and compression (p ≤ 0.03), and significantly decreased RS compared with DTH in extension (p = 0.02). DTH was associated with increased SM in left and right axial rotation compared with 2R (p ≤ 0.003) and in left and right lateral bending and left and right axial rotation compared with FAC and VAC (p ≤ 0.02). FAC and VAC were associated with decreased SM compared with 2R in right and left lateral bending (p ≤ 0.03).
RS across the lumbosacral junction can be high. Supplemental rod fixation with DTH is an effective strategy for reducing RS across the lumbosacral junction. However, the greatest reduction in RS and SM was achieved with a VAC that allowed for straight (uncontoured) accessory rod placement.