Object. Interbody fusion devices are rapidly gaining acceptance as a method of ensuring lumbar interbody arthrodesis. Although different types of devices have been developed, the comparative reconstruction stability remains controversial. It also remains unclear how different stress-shielded environments are created within the devices. Using a calf spine model, this study was designed to compare the construct stiffness afforded by 11 differently designed lumbar interbody fusion devices and to quantify their stress-shielding effects by measuring pressure within the devices.
Methods. Sixty-six lumbar specimens obtained from calves were subjected to anterior interbody reconstruction at L4–5 by using one of the following interbody fusion devices: four different threaded fusion cages (BAK device, BAK Proximity, Ray TFC, and Danek TIBFD), five different nonthreaded fusion devices (oval and circular Harms cages, Brantigan PLIF and ALIF cages, and InFix device); two different types of allograft (femoral ring and bone dowel) were used. Construct stiffness was evaluated in axial compression, torsion, flexion, and lateral bending. Prior to testing, a silicon elastomer was injected into the cages and intracage pressures were measured using pressure needle transducers.
Conclusions. No statistical differences were observed in construct stiffness among the threaded cages and nonthreaded devices in most of the testing modalities. Threaded fusion cages demonstrated significantly lower intracage pressures compared with nonthreaded cages and structural allografts. Compared with nonthreaded cages and structural allografts, threaded fusion cages afforded equivalent reconstruction stiffness but provided more stress-shielded environment within the devices.