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Sabrina A. Gonzalez-Blohm, James J. Doulgeris, Kamran Aghayev, William E. Lee III, Andrey Volkov and Frank D. Vrionis

Object

In this paper the authors evaluate through in vitro biomechanical testing the performance of an interspinous fusion device as a stand-alone device, after lumbar decompression surgery, and as supplemental fixation to expandable cages in a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) construct.

Methods

Nine L3–4 human cadaveric spines were biomechanically tested under the following conditions: 1) intact/control; 2) L3–4 left hemilaminotomy with partial discectomy (injury); 3) interspinous spacer (ISS); 4) bilateral pedicle screw system (BPSS); 5) bilateral hemilaminectomy, discectomy, and expandable posterior interbody cages with ISS (PLIF-ISS); and 6) PLIF-BPSS. Each test consisted of 100 N of axial preload with ± 7.5 Nm of torque in flexion-extension, right/left lateral bending, and right/left axial rotation. Significant changes in range of motion (ROM), neutral zone stiffness (NZS), elastic zone stiffness (EZS), and energy loss (EL) were explored among conditions using nonparametric Friedman test and Wilcoxon signed-rank comparisons (p ≤ 0.05).

Results

The injury increased ROM in flexion (p = 0.01), left bending (p = 0.03), and right/left rotation (p < 0.01) and also decreased NZS in flexion (p = 0.01) and extension (p < 0.01). Both the ISS and BPSS reduced flexion-extension ROM and increased flexion-extension stiffness (NZS and EZS) with respect to the injury and intact conditions (p < 0.05), but the ISS condition provided greater resistance than BPSS in extension for ROM, NZS, and EZS (p < 0.01). The BPSS increased the rigidity (ROM, NZS, and EZS) of the intact model in lateral bending and axial rotation (p ≤ 0.01), except in EZS for left rotation (p = 0.23, Friedman test). The incorporation of posterior cages marginally increased (p = 0.05) the EZS of the BPSS construct in flexion but these interbody devices provided significant stability to the ISS construct in lateral bending and axial rotation for ROM (p = 0.02), in lateral bending for NZS (p = 0.02), and in flexion/axial rotation for EZS (p ≤ 0.03); however, both PLIF constructs demonstrated equivalent ROM and stiffness (p ≥ 0.16), except in lateral bending where the PLIF-BPSS was more stable (p = 0.02). In terms of EL, the injury increased EL in flexion-extension (p = 0.02), the ISS increased EL for lateral bending and axial rotation (p ≤ 0.03), and the BPSS decreased EL in lateral bending (p = 0.02), with respect to the intact condition. The PLIF-ISS decreased lateral bending EL with respect to the ISS condition (p = 0.02), but not enough to be smaller or, at least, equivalent, to that of the PLIF-BPSS construct (p = 0.02).

Conclusions

The ISS may be a suitable device to provide immediate flexion-extension balance after a unilateral laminotomy, but the BPSS provides greater immediate stability in lateral bending and axial rotation motions. Both PLIF constructs performed equivalently in flexion-extension and axial rotation, but the PLIF-BPSS construct is more resistant to lateral bending motions. Further biomechanical and clinical evidence is required to strongly support the recommendation of a stand-alone interspinous fusion device or as supplemental fixation to expandable posterior interbody cages.

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Sabrina A. Gonzalez-Blohm, James J. Doulgeris, Kamran Aghayev, William E. Lee III, Jake Laun and Frank D. Vrionis

Object

Through in vitro biomechanical testing, the authors compared the performance of a vertically expandable lateral lumbar interbody cage (EC) under two different torque-controlled expansions (1.5 and 3.0 Nm) and with respect to an equivalent lateral lumbar static cage (SC) with and without pedicle screw fixation.

Methods

Eleven cadaveric human L2–3 segments were evaluated under the following conditions: 1) intact; 2) discectomy; 3) EC under 1.50 Nm of torque expansion (EC-1.5Nm); 4) EC under 3.00 Nm of torque expansion (EC-3.0Nm); 5) SC; and 6) SC with a bilateral pedicle screw system (SC+BPSS). Load-displacement behavior was evaluated for each condition using a combination of 100 N of axial preload and 7.5 Nm of torque in flexion and extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR). Range of motion (ROM), neutral zone stiffness (NZS), and elastic zone stiffness (EZS) were statistically compared among conditions using post hoc Wilcoxon signed-rank comparisons after Friedman tests, with a significance level of 0.05. Additionally, any cage height difference between interbody devices was evaluated. When radiographic subsidence was observed, the specimen's data were not considered for the analysis.

Results

The final cage height in the EC-1.5Nm condition (12.1 ± 0.9 mm) was smaller (p < 0.001) than that in the EC-3.0Nm (13.9 ± 1.1 mm) and SC (13.4 ± 0.8 mm) conditions. All instrumentation reduced (p < 0.01) ROM with respect to the injury and increased (p ≤ 0.01) NZS in flexion, extension, and LB as well as EZS in flexion, LB, and AR. When comparing the torque expansions, the EC-3.0Nm condition had smaller (p < 0.01) FE and AR ROM and greater (p ≤ 0.04) flexion NZS, extension EZS, and AR EZS. The SC condition performed equivalently (p ≥ 0.10) to both EC conditions in terms of ROM, NZS, and EZS, except for EZS in AR, in which a marginal (p = 0.05) difference was observed with respect to the EC-3.0Nm condition. The SC+BPSS was the most rigid construct in terms of ROM and stiffness, except for 1) LB ROM, in which it was comparable (p = 0.08) with that of the EC-1.5Nm condition; 2) AR NZS, in which it was comparable (p > 0.66, Friedman test) with that of all other constructs; and 3) AR EZS, in which it was comparable with that of the EC-1.5Nm (p = 0.56) and SC (p = 0.08) conditions.

Conclusions

A 3.0-Nm torque expansion of a lateral interbody cage provides greater immediate stability in FE and AR than a 1.5-Nm torque expansion. Moreover, the expandable device provides stability comparable with that of an equivalent (in size, shape, and bone-interface material) SC. Specifically, the SC+BPSS construct was the most stable in FE motion. Even though an EC may seem a better option given the minimal tissue disruption during its implantation, there may be a greater chance of endplate collapse by over-distracting the disc space because of the minimal haptic feedback from the expansion.