The objectives of this study were to compare the biomechanical effects of five lumbar reconstruction models on the adjacent segment and to analyze the effects of three factors: construct stiffness, sagittal alignment, and the number of fused segments.
Nondestructive flexion–extension tests were performed by applying pure moments to 10 calf spinal (L3–S1) specimens. One-segment (L5–6) or two-segment (L5–S1) posterior fusion methods were simulated: 1) one-segment posterolateral fusion (PLF); 2) one-segment PLF with interbody fusion cages (one-segment PLIF/PLF); 3) two-segment PLF; 4) two-segment PLIF/PLF; and 5) two-segment PLF in kyphosis (two-segment kyphotic PLF). The range of motion (ROM) of the reconstructed segments, intradiscal pressure (IDP), and lamina strain in the upper (L4–5) adjacent segment were analyzed.
The ROM was significantly decreased in the PLIF/PLF models compared with that in the PLF alone models after both the one- and two-segment fusions. If the number of fused segments was increased, the pressure and strains were also increased in specimens subjected to the PLIF/PLF procedure, more so than the PLF-alone procedure. In the one-segment PLIF/PLF model the authors observed a reduced IDP and lamina strain compared with those in the kyphotic two-segment PLF model despite the latter’s higher levels of initial stiffness.
If the number of fused levels can be reduced by using PLIF to correct local kyphosis, then this procedure may be valuable for reducing adjacent-segment degenerative changes.