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Bryan W. Cunningham, Kyle B. Mueller, Kenneth P. Mullinix, Xiaolei Sun and Faheem A. Sandhu

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the current study was to quantify and compare the multidirectional flexibility properties of occipital anchor fixation with conventional methods of occipitocervical screw fixation using nondestructive and destructive investigative methods.

METHODS

Fourteen cadaveric occipitocervical specimens (Oc–T2) were randomized to reconstruction with occipital anchors or an occipital plate and screws. Using a 6-degree-of-freedom spine simulator with moments of ± 2.0 Nm, initial multidirectional flexibility analysis of the intact and reconstructed conditions was performed followed by fatigue loading of 25,000 cycles of flexion-extension (x-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), 15,000 cycles of lateral bending (z-axis, ± 2.0 Nm), and 10,000 cycles of axial rotation (y-axis, ± 2.0 Nm). Fluoroscopic images of the implantation sites were obtained before and after fatigue testing and placed on an x-y coordinate system to quantify positional stability of the anchors and screws used for reconstruction and effect, if any, of the fatigue component. Destructive testing included an anterior flexural load to construct failure. Quantification of implant, occipitocervical, and atlantoaxial junction range of motion is reported as absolute values, and peak flexural failure moment in Newton-meters (Nm).

RESULTS

Absolute value comparisons between the intact condition and 2 reconstruction groups demonstrated significant reductions in segmental flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation motion at the Oc–C1 and C1–2 junctions (p < 0.05). The average bone mineral density at the midline keel (1.422 g/cm3) was significantly higher compared with the lateral occipital region at 0.671 g/cm3 (p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between the occipital anchor and plate treatments in terms of angular rotation (degrees; p = 0.150) or x-axis displacement (mm; p = 0.572), but there was a statistically significant difference in y-axis displacement (p = 0.031) based on quantitative analysis of the pre- and postfatigue fluoroscopic images (p > 0.05). Under destructive anterior flexural loading, the occipital anchor group failed at 90 ± 31 Nm, and the occipital plate group failed at 79 ± 25 Nm (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Both reconstructions reduced flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation at the occipitocervical and atlantoaxial junctions, as expected. Flexural load to failure did not differ significantly between the 2 treatment groups despite occipital anchors using a compression-fit mechanism to provide fixation in less dense bone. These data suggest that an occipital anchor technique serves as a biomechanically viable clinical alternative to occipital plate fixation.

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Mohamed Macki, Rafael De la Garza-Ramos, Ashley A. Murgatroyd, Kenneth P. Mullinix, Xiaolei Sun, Bryan W. Cunningham, Brandon A. McCutcheon, Mohamad Bydon and Ziya L. Gokaslan

OBJECTIVE

Aggressive sacral tumors often require en bloc resection and lumbopelvic reconstruction. Instrumentation failure and pseudarthrosis remain a clinical concern to be addressed. The objective in this study was to compare the biomechanical stability of 3 distinct techniques for sacral reconstruction in vitro.

METHODS

In a human cadaveric model study, 8 intact human lumbopelvic specimens (L2–pelvis) were tested for flexion-extension range of motion (ROM), lateral bending, and axial rotation with a custom-designed 6-df spine simulator as well as axial compression stiffness with the MTS 858 Bionix Test System. Biomechanical testing followed this sequence: 1) intact spine; 2) sacrectomy (no testing); 3) Model 1 (L3–5 transpedicular instrumentation plus spinal rods anchored to iliac screws); 4) Model 2 (addition of transiliac rod); and 5) Model 3 (removal of transiliac rod; addition of 2 spinal rods and 2 S-2 screws). Range of motion was measured at L4–5, L5–S1/cross-link, L5–right ilium, and L5–left ilium.

RESULTS

Flexion-extension ROM of the intact specimen at L4–5 (6.34° ± 2.57°) was significantly greater than in Model 1 (1.54° ± 0.94°), Model 2 (1.51° ± 1.01°), and Model 3 (0.72° ± 0.62°) (p < 0.001). Flexion-extension at both the L5–right ilium (2.95° ± 1.27°) and the L5–left ilium (2.87° ± 1.40°) for Model 3 was significantly less than the other 3 cohorts at the same level (p = 0.005 and p = 0.012, respectively). Compared with the intact condition, all 3 reconstruction groups statistically significantly decreased lateral bending ROM at all measured points. Axial rotation ROM at L4–5 for Model 1 (2.01° ± 1.39°), Model 2 (2.00° ± 1.52°), and Model 3 (1.15° ± 0.80°) was significantly lower than the intact condition (5.02° ± 2.90°) (p < 0.001). Moreover, axial rotation for the intact condition and Model 3 at L5–right ilium (2.64° ± 1.36° and 2.93° ± 1.68°, respectively) and L5–left ilium (2.58° ± 1.43° and 2.93° ± 1.71°, respectively) was significantly lower than for Model 1 and Model 2 at L5–right ilium (5.14° ± 2.48° and 4.95° ± 2.45°, respectively) (p = 0.036) and L5–left ilium (5.19° ± 2.34° and 4.99° ± 2.31°) (p = 0.022). Last, results of the axial compression testing at all measured points were not statistically different among reconstructions.

CONCLUSIONS

The addition of a transverse bar in Model 2 offered no biomechanical advantage. Although the implementation of 4 iliac screws and 4 rods conferred a definitive kinematic advantage in Model 3, that model was associated with significantly restricted lumbopelvic ROM.