Adjacent-segment disease (ASD) proximal to lumbosacral fusion is assumed to result from increased stress and motion that extends above or below the fusion construct. Sublaminar bands (SBs) have been shown to potentially mitigate stresses in deformity constructs. A similar application of SBs in lumbar fusions is not well described yet may potentially mitigate against ASD.
Eight fresh-frozen human cadaveric spine specimens were instrumented with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) cages at L3–4 and L4–5, and pedicle screws from L3 to S1. Bilateral SBs were applied at L2 and tightened around the rods extending above the L3 pedicle screws. After being mounted on a testing frame, the spines were loaded at L1 to 6 Nm in all 3 planes, i.e., flexion/extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation. Motion and intradiscal pressures (IDPs) at L2–3 were measured for 5 conditions: intact, instrumentation (L3–S1), band tension (BT) 30%, BT 50%, and BT 100%.
There was significant increase in motion at L2–3 with L3–S1 instrumentation compared with the intact spine in flexion/extension (median 8.78°, range 4.07°–10.81°, vs median 7.27°, range 1.63°–9.66°; p = 0.016). When compared with instrumentation, BT 100% reduced motion at L2–3 in flexion/extension (median 8.78°, range 4.07°–10.81°, vs median 3.61°, range 1.11°–9.39°; p < 0.001) and lateral bending (median 6.58°, range 3.67°–8.59°, vs median 5.62°, range 3.28°–6.74°; p = 0.001). BT 50% reduced motion at L2–3 only in flexion/extension when compared with instrumentation (median 8.78°, range 4.07°–10.81°, vs median 5.91°, range 2.54°–10.59°; p = 0.027). There was no significant increase of motion at L1–2 with banding when compared with instrumentation, although an increase was seen from the intact spine with BT 100% in flexion/extension (median 5.14°, range 2.47°–9.73°, vs median 7.34°, range 4.22°–9.89°; p = 0.005). BT 100% significantly reduced IDP at L2–3 from 25.07 psi (range 2.41–48.08 psi) before tensioning to 19.46 psi (range −2.35 to 29.55 psi) after tensioning (p = 0.016).
In this model, the addition of L2 SBs reduced motion and IDP at L2–3 after the L3–S1 instrumentation. There was no significant increase in motion at L1–2 in response to band tensioning compared with instrumentation alone. The application of SBs may have a clinical application in reducing the incidence of ASD.