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Piyanat Wangsawatwong, Anna G. U. Sawa, Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, Jennifer N. Lehrman, Luke K. O’Neill, Jay D. Turner, Juan S. Uribe, and Brian P. Kelly

OBJECTIVE

Cortical screw–rod (CSR) fixation has emerged as an alternative to the traditional pedicle screw–rod (PSR) fixation for posterior lumbar fixation. Previous studies have concluded that CSR provides the same stability in cadaveric specimens as PSR and is comparable in clinical outcomes. However, recent clinical studies reported a lower incidence of radiographic and symptomatic adjacent-segment degeneration with CSR. No biomechanical study to date has focused on how the adjacent-segment mobility of these two constructs compares. This study aimed to investigate adjacent-segment mobility of CSR and PSR fixation, with and without interbody support (lateral lumbar interbody fusion [LLIF] or transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion [TLIF]).

METHODS

A retroactive analysis was done using normalized range of motion (ROM) data at levels adjacent to single-level (L3–4) bilateral screw–rod fixation using pedicle or cortical screws, with and without LLIF or TLIF. Intact and instrumented specimens (n = 28, all L2–5) were tested using pure moment loads (7.5 Nm) in flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. Adjacent-segment ROM data were normalized to intact ROM data. Statistical comparisons of adjacent-segment normalized ROM between two of the groups (PSR followed by PSR+TLIF [n = 7] and CSR followed by CSR+TLIF [n = 7]) were performed using 2-way ANOVA with replication. Statistical comparisons among four of the groups (PSR+TLIF [n = 7], PSR+LLIF [n = 7], CSR+TLIF [n = 7], and CSR+LLIF [n = 7]) were made using 2-way ANOVA without replication. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

RESULTS

Proximal adjacent-segment normalized ROM was significantly larger with PSR than CSR during flexion-extension regardless of TLIF (p = 0.02), or with either TLIF or LLIF (p = 0.04). During lateral bending with TLIF, the distal adjacent-segment normalized ROM was significantly larger with PSR than CSR (p < 0.001). Moreover, regardless of the types of screw-rod fixations (CSR or PSR), TLIF had a significantly larger normalized ROM than LLIF in all directions at both proximal and distal adjacent segments (p ≤ 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of PSR versus CSR during single-level lumbar fusion can significantly affect mobility at the adjacent segment, regardless of the presence of TLIF or with either TLIF or LLIF. Moreover, the type of interbody support also had a significant effect on adjacent-segment mobility.

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Bernardo de Andrada Pereira, Piyanat Wangsawatwong, Jennifer N. Lehrman, Anna G. U. Sawa, S. Harrison Farber, Jakub Godzik, Luke K. O’Neill, Juan S. Uribe, Brian P. Kelly, and Jay D. Turner

OBJECTIVE

Changes to segmental lordosis at a single level may affect adjacent-level biomechanics and overall spinal alignment with an iatrogenic domino effect commonly seen in adult spinal deformity. This study investigated the effects of different segmental angles of single-level lumbar fixation on stability and principal strain across the surface of the adjacent-level disc.

METHODS

Seven human cadaveric L3–S1 specimens were instrumented at L4–5 and tested in 3 conditions: 1) neutral native angle ("neutral"), 2) increasing angle by 5° of lordosis ("lordosis"), and 3) decreasing angle by 5° of kyphosis ("kyphosis"). Pure moment loads (7.5 Nm) were applied in flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation, followed by 400 N of axial compression alone and together with pure moments. Range of motion (ROM), principal maximum strain (E1), and principal minimum strain (E2) across different surface subregions of the upper adjacent-level disc (L3–4) were optically assessed. Larger magnitudes of either E1 or E2 indicate larger tissue deformations and represent indirect measures of increased stress.

RESULTS

At the superior adjacent level, a significant increase in ROM was observed in kyphosis and lordosis versus neutral in flexion (p ≤ 0.001) and extension (p ≤ 0.02). ROM was increased in lordosis versus neutral (p = 0.03) and kyphosis (p = 0.004) during compression. ROM increased in kyphosis versus neutral and lordosis (both p = 0.03) in compression plus extension. Lordosis resulted in increased E1 across the midposterior subregion of the disc (Q3) versus neutral during right lateral bending (p = 0.04); lordosis and kyphosis resulted in decreased E1 in Q3 versus neutral with compression (p ≤ 0.03). Lordosis decreased E1 in Q3 versus neutral during compression plus flexion (p = 0.01), whereas kyphosis increased E1 in all quartiles and increased E2 in the midanterior subregion versus lordosis in compression plus flexion (p ≤ 0.047). Kyphosis decreased E1 in Q3 (p = 0.02) and E2 in the anterior-most subregion of the disc (Q1) (p = 0.006) versus neutral, whereas lordosis decreased E1 in Q3 (p = 0.008) versus neutral in compression plus extension.

CONCLUSIONS

Lumbar spine monosegmental fixation with 5° offset from the neutral individual segmental angle altered the motion and principal strain magnitudes at the upper adjacent disc, with induced kyphosis resulting in larger principal strains compared with lordosis. Segmental alignment of single-level fusion influences adjacent-segment biomechanics, and suboptimal alignment may play a role in the clinical development of adjacent-segment disease.