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İnceoğlu Serkan, Cumhur Kılınçer, Andrea Tami and Robert F. McLain

Object

Elastic deformation has been proposed as a mechanism by which vertebral pedicles can maintain pullout strength when conical screws are backed out from full insertion. The response to the insertion technique may influence both the extent of deformation and the risk of acute fracture during screw placement. The aim of this study was to determine the deformation characteristics of the lumbar pedicle cortex during screw placement.

Methods

Lumbar pedicles with linear strain gauges attached at the lateral and medial cortices were instrumented using 7.5-mm pedicle screws with or without preconditioning by insertion and removal of 6.5-mm screws. The strains and elastic recoveries of the medial and lateral cortices were determined.

Results

Mean medial wall strains tended to be lower than mean lateral wall strains when the 6.5-mm and 7.5-mm screw data were pooled (p = 0.07). After the screws had been removed, 71 to 79% of the deformation at the lateral cortex and 70 to 96% of the deformation at the medial cortex recovered. When inserted first, the 7.5-mm screw caused more plastic deformation at the cortex than it did when inserted after the 6.5-mm screw. Occasional idiosyncratic strain patterns were observed. No gross fracture was observed during screw placement.

Conclusions

Screw insertion generated plastic deformation at the pedicle cortex even though the screw did not directly contact the cortex. The lateral and medial cortices responded differently to screw insertion. The technique of screw insertion affected the deformation behavior of the lumbar pedicles. With myriad options for screw selection and placement available, further study is needed before optimal placement parameters can be verified.

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Serkan İnceoğlu I, Cumhur Kilinçer, Andrea Tami and Robert F. McLain

Object

Although the gross anatomy of the pedicle in the human spine has been investigated in great detail, knowledge of the microanatomy of trabecular and cortical structures of the pedicle is limited. An understanding of the mechanical properties and structure of the pedicle bone is essential for improving the quality of pedicle screw placement. To enhance this understanding, the authors examined human cadaveric lumbar vertebrae.

Methods

In this study, the authors obtained seven human cadaveric lumbar vertebrae. The lateral and medial cortices of these pedicle specimens were sectioned and embedded in polymethylmethacrylate. Cross-sectional slices of cortex were obtained from each specimen and imaged with the aid of a high-resolution light microscope. Assessments of osteonal orientation, determinations of relative dimensions, and histomorphometric studies were performed.

Results

The cortex of the pedicle in each human lumbar vertebra had an osteonal structure with haversian canals laid down mainly in the anteroposterior (longitudinal) direction. The organization of osteons across the transverse cross-section was not homogeneous. The layer of lamellar bone that typically envelops cortical bone structures (such as in long bones) was not observed, and the lateral cortex was significantly thinner than the medial cortex (p< 0.05).

Conclusions

The cortical bone surrounding the pedicle differed from bone in other anatomical regions such as the anterior vertebral body and femur. The osteonal orientation and lack of a lamellar sheath may account for the unique deformation characteristics of the pedicle cortex seen during pedicle screw placement.

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Tiffany G. Perry, Prasath Mageswaran, Robb W. Colbrunn, Tara F. Bonner, Todd Francis and Robert F. McLain

Object

Classic biomechanical models have used thoracic spines disarticulated from the rib cage, but the biomechanical influence of the rib cage on fracture biomechanics has not been investigated. The well-accepted construct for stabilizing midthoracic fractures is posterior instrumentation 3 levels above and 2 levels below the injury. Short-segment fixation failure in thoracolumbar burst fractures has led to kyphosis and implant failure when anterior column support is lacking. Whether shorter constructs are viable in the midthoracic spine is a point of controversy. The objective of this study was the biomechanical evaluation of a burst fracture at T-9 with an intact rib cage using different fixation constructs for stabilizing the spine.

Methods

A total of 8 human cadaveric spines (C7–L1) with intact rib cages were used in this study. The range of motion (ROM) between T-8 and T-10 was the outcome measure. A robotic spine testing system was programmed to apply pure moment loads (± 5 Nm) in lateral bending, flexion-extension, and axial rotation to whole thoracic specimens. Intersegmental rotations were measured using an optoelectronic system. Flexibility tests were conducted on intact specimens, then sequentially after surgically induced fracture at T-9, and after each of 4 fixation construct patterns. The 4 construct patterns were sequentially tested in a nondestructive protocol, as follows: 1) 3 above/2 below (3A/2B); 2) 1 above/1 below (1A/1B); 3) 1 above/1 below with vertebral body augmentation (1A/1B w/VA); and 4) vertebral body augmentation with no posterior instrumentation (VA). A repeated-measures ANOVA was used to compare the segmental motion between T-8 and T-10 vertebrae.

Results

Mean ROM increased by 86%, 151%, and 31% after fracture in lateral bending, flexion-extension, and axial rotation, respectively. In lateral bending, there was significant reduction compared with intact controls for all 3 instrumented constructs: 3A/2B (−92%, p = 0.0004), 1A/1B (−63%, p = 0.0132), and 1A/1B w/VA (−66%, p = 0.0150). In flexion-extension, only the 3A/2B pattern showed a significant reduction (−90%, p = 0.011). In axial rotation, motion was significantly reduced for the 3 instrumented constructs: 3A/2B (−66%, p = 0.0001), 1A/1B (−53%, p = 0.0001), and 1A/1B w/VA (−51%, p = 0.0002). Between the 4 construct patterns, the 3 instrumented constructs (3A/2B, 1A/1B, and 1A/1B w/VA) showed comparable stability in all 3 motion planes.

Conclusions

This study showed no significant difference in the stability of the 3 instrumented constructs tested when the rib cage is intact. Fractures that might appear more grossly unstable when tested in the disarticulated spine may be bolstered by the ribs. This may affect the extent of segmental spinal instrumentation needed to restore stability in some spine injuries. While these initial findings suggest that shorter constructs may adequately stabilize the spine in this fracture model, further study is needed before these results can be extrapolated to clinical application.

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Prasath Mageswaran, Fernando Techy, Robb W. Colbrunn, Tara F. Bonner and Robert F. McLain

Object

The object of this study was to evaluate the effect of hybrid dynamic stabilization on adjacent levels of the lumbar spine.

Methods

Seven human spine specimens from T-12 to the sacrum were used. The following conditions were implemented: 1) intact spine; 2) fusion of L4–5 with bilateral pedicle screws and titanium rods; and 3) supplementation of the L4–5 fusion with pedicle screw dynamic stabilization constructs at L3–4, with the purpose of protecting the L3–4 level from excessive range of motion (ROM) and to create a smoother motion transition to the rest of the lumbar spine. An industrial robot was used to apply continuous pure moment (± 2 Nm) in flexion-extension with and without a follower load, lateral bending, and axial rotation. Intersegmental rotations of the fused, dynamically stabilized, and adjacent levels were measured and compared.

Results

In flexion-extension only, the rigid instrumentation at L4–5 caused a 78% decrease in the segment's ROM when compared with the intact specimen. To compensate, it caused an increase in motion at adjacent levels L1–2 (45.6%) and L2–3 (23.2%) only. The placement of the dynamic construct at L3–4 decreased the operated level's ROM by 80.4% (similar stability as the fusion at L4–5), when compared with the intact specimen, and caused a significant increase in motion at all tested adjacent levels. In flexion-extension with a follower load, instrumentation at L4–5 affected only a subadjacent level, L5–sacrum (52.0%), while causing a reduction in motion at the operated level (L4–5, −76.4%). The dynamic construct caused a significant increase in motion at the adjacent levels T12–L1 (44.9%), L1–2 (57.3%), and L5–sacrum (83.9%), while motion at the operated level (L3–4) was reduced by 76.7%. In lateral bending, instrumentation at L4–5 increased motion at only T12–L1 (22.8%). The dynamic construct at L3–4 caused an increase in motion at T12–L1 (69.9%), L1–2 (59.4%), L2–3 (44.7%), and L5–sacrum (43.7%). In axial rotation, only the placement of the dynamic construct at L3–4 caused a significant increase in motion of the adjacent levels L2–3 (25.1%) and L5–sacrum (31.4%).

Conclusions

The dynamic stabilization system displayed stability characteristics similar to a solid, all-metal construct. Its addition of the supraadjacent level (L3–4) to the fusion (L4–5) did protect the adjacent level from excessive motion. However, it essentially transformed a 1-level lumbar fusion into a 2-level lumbar fusion, with exponential transfer of motion to the fewer remaining discs.

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Robert F. McLain, Iain Kalfas, Gordon R. Bell, John E. Tetzlaff, Helen J. Yoon and Maunak Rana

Object. Despite a history of safety and efficacy, spinal anesthesia is rarely used in lumbar surgery. Application of regional anesthetics is widely preferred for lower-extremity surgery, but general anesthesia is used almost exclusively in spine surgery, despite evidence that spinal anesthesia is as safe and may offer some advantages.

Methods. In this case-controlled study the authors analyzed outcomes obtained in 400 patients in whom either spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia was induced to perform a lumbar decompression. Patients were matched for anesthesia-related class, preoperative diagnosis, surgical procedure, and perioperative protocols. All aspects of surgery, recovery, postanesthesia care, and pain management were uniform irrespective of the anesthetic type. Case complexity was equivalent. An independent observer performed analysis of the data. Data from the intraoperative period through hospital discharge were collected and compared.

Two hundred consecutive patients meeting inclusion criteria were included in each group. Patients were treated for either lumbar stenosis or herniated nucleus pulposus. Demographically, both groups were well matched. Anesthetic and operative times were longer for patients receiving a general anesthetic (p < 0.05), in whom more nausea and greater requirements for antiemetics and pain medication were also present during recovery (p < 0.05). Overall complication rates and, specifically, the incidences of urinary retention were significantly lower in spinal anesthesia—induced patients (p < 0.05). There were no neural injuries in either group, and the incidence of spinal headache was lower in patients receiving a spinal anesthetic (1.5% compared with 3%).

Conclusions. Spinal anesthesia was as safe and effective as general anethesia for patients undergoing lumbar laminectomy. Potential advantages of spinal anesthsia include a shorter anesthesia duration, decreased nausea, antiemetic and analgesic requirements, and fewer complications. Successful surgery can be performed using either anesthesia type.

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Serkan İnceoğlu, William H. Montgomery Jr., Selvon St. Clair and Robert F. McLain

Object

Minimally invasive pedicle screws inserted vertically (that is, dorsoventrally) through the pedicle, as opposed to the more common coaxial technique, offer potential advantages by minimizing soft-tissue stripping during screw placement. The screws are designed for insertion through a medial starting point with vertical trajectory through the pedicle and into the vertebral body. As such, no lateral dissection beyond the insertion point is necessary. However, the effects of this insertion technique on the screw biomechanical performance over a short- and long-term are unknown. The authors investigated the pullout strength and stiffness of these screws, with or without fatigue cycling, compared with comparably sized, traditional screws placed by coaxial technique.

Methods

Twenty-one lumbar vertebrae (L-3, L-4, and L-5) were tested. Each pedicle of each vertebra was instrumented with either a traditional, coaxial pedicle screw (Group A), placed through a standard starting point, or a vertically oriented, alternative-design screw (Group B), with a medial starting point and vertical trajectory. The specimens were divided into 2 groups for testing. One group was tested for direct pullout (10 specimens) while the other was subject to pullout after tangential (toggle) cyclic loading (11 specimens). The screws were cycled in displacement control (± 5 mm producing ~ 4-Nm moment) at a rate of 3 Hz for 5000 cycles. Pullout tests were performed at a rate of 1 mm/minute.

Results

Two-way ANOVA showed that Group B screws with a medial starting point (2541 ± 1090 N for cycled vs 2135 ± 1323 N for noncycled) had significantly higher pullout loads than Group A screws with a standard entry point (1585 ± 766 N for cycled vs 1417 ± 812 N noncycled) (p = 0.001). There was no significant effect of cycling or screw insertion type on pullout stiffness. Tangential stiffness of the Group B screws was significantly less than that of the Group A screws (p = 0.001). The stiffness of both screws in the toe region was significantly affected by cycling (p = 0.001).

Conclusions

The use of Group B screws inserted through a medial starting point showed greater pullout load than a Group A screw inserted through a standard starting point. The greater pullout strength in Group B screws may be due to screw thread design and increased cortical bone purchase at the medial starting point. Nevertheless, anatomical considerations of the medial starting point, that is, pedicle or lateral vertebral body cortex breach, may limit its application. The medial starting point of the Group B screw was frequently in the facet at the L-3 and L-4 pedicle entry points, which may have clinical importance.

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Prasath Mageswaran, Robert F. McLain, Robb Colbrunn, Tara Bonner, Elijah Hothem and Adam Bartsch

Object

This study compared the fixing strength and stability achieved by a unilateral plate and screw configuration against a standard cervical fixation plate using a single-level corpectomy and allograft strut graft model.

Methods

Multidirectional in vitro flexibility tests were performed using a robotic spine testing system. Human cadaveric spines were assessed for spinal stability after vertebral corpectomy and anterior instrumentation. Specimens were mounted cranially and caudally on custom jigs that were then attached to load cells on the robotic system's end effector and base pedestal. C2–T1 spine specimens (n = 6) were tested intact; then after C-5 corpectomy (the vertebral body was excised), allograft placement and anterior plate fixation were performed. The surgeons performed a uniform corpectomy and reconstruction of each specimen in a protocol fashion. Two plates were compared: a unilateral 4-hole cervical plate designed to obtain rigid fixation using 4 convergent fixation screws all placed unilateral to the vertebral midline, and a standard cervical plate with bilateral plate screw configuration. The plate testing sequence was selected at random to limit bias. Fixation screws were matched for length and diameter. Pure moments were applied under load control (maximum 1.8 Nm) in flexion, extension, left/right lateral bending, and left/right axial rotation. Vertebral motion was measured using an optoelectronic system. The mean relative range of motion between C-4 and C-6 was compared among groups using repeated-measures ANOVA (significance level of 0.05).

Results

In comparing the intact construct and 2 different plates in all planes of motion, only motion in extension (intact vs unilateral plate, p = 0.003; intact vs standard plate, p = 0.001) and left axial rotation (intact vs unilateral plate, p = 0.019) were significantly affected. In terms of immediate cervical stability after 1-level corpectomy and placement of an allograft reconstruction, the unilateral plate showed comparable stiffness to the standard plate in all 3 motion planes (flexion [p = 0.993], extension [p = 0.732], left lateral bending [p = 0.683], right lateral bending [p = 0.546], left axial rotation [p = 0.082], and right axial rotation [p = 0.489]). The unilateral plate showed a trend toward improved stiffness in axial rotation. In no direction did the unilateral configuration prove significantly less stiff than the traditional configuration.

Conclusions

The unilateral plate design proposed here requires minimal dissection and retraction beyond the midline of tissues susceptible to scar, postoperative pain, and swelling. The authors' study suggests that a unilateral plate can be configured to provide comparable fixation strength and torsional stiffness compared with traditional, widely accepted plate designs.