The objective of this study was to evaluate the biomechanical properties of lateral instrumentation compared with short- and long-segment pedicle screw constructs following an L-1 corpectomy and reconstruction with an expandable cage.
Eight human cadaveric T10–L4 spines underwent an L-1 corpectomy followed by placement of an expandable cage. The spines then underwent placement of lateral instrumentation consisting of 4 monoaxial screws and 2 rods with 2 cross-connectors, short-segment pedicle screw fixation involving 1 level above and below the corpectomy, and long-segment pedicle screw fixation (2 levels above and below). The order of instrumentation was randomized in the 8 specimens. Testing was conducted for each fixation technique. The spines were tested with a pure moment of 6 Nm in all 6 degrees of freedom (flexion, extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation).
In flexion, extension, and left/right lateral bending, posterior long-segment instrumentation had significantly less motion compared with the intact state. Additionally, posterior long-segment instrumentation was significantly more rigid than short-segment and lateral instrumentation in flexion, extension, and left/right lateral bending. In axial rotation, the posterior long-segment construct as well as lateral instrumentation were not significantly more rigid than the intact state. The posterior long-segment construct was the most rigid in all 6 degrees of freedom.
In the setting of highly unstable fractures requiring anterior reconstruction, and involving all 3 columns, long-segment posterior pedicle screw constructs are the most rigid.