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Yunus Alapan, Cihan Demir, Tuncay Kaner, Rahmi Guclu and Serkan İnceoğlu

Object

The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of ligament failure on the instantaneous center of rotation (ICR) in the lower lumbar spine.

Methods

A 3D finite element model of the L4–5 segment was obtained and validated. Ligament failure was simulated by reducing ligaments in a stepwise manner from posterior to anterior. A pure bending moment of 7.5 Nm was applied to the model in 3 anatomical planes for the purpose of validation, and a 6-Nm moment was applied to analyze the effect of ligament failure. For each loading case, ligament reduction step, and load increment, the range of motion of the segment and the ICR of the mobile (L-4) vertebra were calculated and characterized.

Results

The present model showed a consistent increase in the range of motion as the ligaments were removed, which was in agreement with the literature reporting the kinematics of the L4–5 segment. The shift in the location of the ICR was below 5 mm in the sagittal plane and 3 mm in both the axial and coronal planes.

Conclusions

The location of the ICR changed in all planes of motion with the simulation of multiple ligament injury. The removal of the ligaments also changed the load sharing within the motion segment. The change in the center of rotation of the spine together with the change in the range of motion could have a diagnostic value, revealing more detailed information on the type of injury, the state of the ligaments, and load transfer and sharing characteristics of the segment.

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Serkan İnceoğlu, Prasath Mageswaran, Michael T. Modic and Edward C. Benzel

Object

Spondylolysis is a common condition among the general population and a major cause of back pain in young athletes. This condition can be difficult to detect with plain radiography and has been reported to lead to contralateral pars fracture or pedicle fracture in the terminal stages. Interestingly, some patients with late-stage spondylolysis are observed to have radiographic or CT evidence of a sclerotic pedicle on the side contralateral to the spondylolysis. Although computational studies have shown stress elevation in the contralateral pedicle after a pars fracture, it is not known if these changes would cause sclerotic changes in the contralateral pedicle. The objective of this study was to investigate the adaptive remodeling process at the pedicle due to a contralateral spondylolysis using finite element analysis.

Methods

A multiscale finite element model of a vertebra was obtained by combining a continuum model of the posterior elements with a voxel-based pedicle section. Extension loading conditions were applied with or without a fracture at the contralateral pars to analyze the stresses in the contralateral pedicle. A remodeling algorithm was used to simulate and assess density changes in the contralateral pedicle.

Results

The remodeling algorithm demonstrated an increase in bone formation around the perimeter of the contralateral pedicle with some localized loss of mass in the region of cancellous bone.

Conclusions

The authors' results indicated that a pars fracture results in sclerotic changes in the contralateral pedicle. Such a remodeling process could increase overall bone mass. However, focal bone loss in the region of the cancellous bone of the pedicle might predispose the pedicle to microfractures. This phenomenon explains, at least in part, the origin of pedicle stress fractures in the sclerotic contralateral pedicles of patients with unilateral spondylolysis.

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Yunus Alapan, Semih Sezer, Cihan Demir, Tuncay Kaner and Serkan İnceoğlu

Object

The center (axis) of rotation (COR) in the lumbar spine has been studied well. However, there is limited information on the kinetic and kinematic consequences of imposed shift in the location of the COR, although this type of shift can be seen after surgeries using motion preservation or dynamic stabilization devices. The objective of this study was to assess the kinetic and kinematic changes in the lumbar spinal segment due to various imposed CORs.

Methods

A 3D finite element model of the L4–5 segment was constructed and validated. The segment was loaded under a 7.5-Nm bending moment while constrained to rotate about various imposed CORs in the sagittal and axial motion planes. Range of motion, ligament forces, facet loads, and disc stresses were measured.

Results

The present model showed an agreement with previous in vitro and finite element studies under the same load and boundary conditions. Range of motion, facet forces, disc stresses, and ligament loads showed a strong association with the location of the COR.

Conclusions

Acute alterations in the location of the COR can significantly change the load sharing characteristics within the spine segment. The normal location of the COR is a result of the tendency of the vertebra to move in the path of least cumulative resistance.

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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.

Restricted access

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.

Restricted access

Atilla Akbay, Serkan İnceoğlu, Ryan Milks, Richard Schlenk, Selcuk Palaoglu and Edward C. Benzel

Object. Pedicle screw instrumentation of the thoracic spine remains technically challenging. Transverse process and costotransverse screw fixation techniques have been described as alternatives to pedicle screw fixation (PSF). In this study, the authors introduce thoracic transfacet PSF and compare its experimental biomechanical results with those of standard PSF in short-term cyclic loading in cadaveric thoracic specimens.

Methods. Specimens were tested intact for six cycles at compressive loads of 250 N offset by 1 cm along appropriate axes to induce flexion, extension, and left and right lateral bending. The specimens were then fixed with either a pedicle screw/rod construct or transfacet pedicle screws and retested in the same fashion. After this sequence, specimens were loaded until failure in flexion mode at a rate of 5 mm/minute was observed.

Both fixation constructs provided significantly greater stiffnesses than that demonstrated when the specimen was intact (p < 0.05, two-way analysis of variance). Additionally, the two constructs were statistically equivalent in terms of stiffness and load-to-failure values (p < 0.05, two-tailed nonpaired t-test). The only difference observed was that the low midthoracic region (T7–9) was biomechanically weaker than the upper midthoracic and lower thoracic areas in flexion after the destabilization and instrumentation-augmented stabilization procedures.

Conclusions. In selected thoracic surgical procedures, transfacet PSF may, after analysis of long-term biomechanical data, potentially become a reasonable alternative to conventional PSF.

Restricted access

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.