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Srinidhi Nagaraja, Hassan K. Awada, Maureen L. Dreher, John T. Bouck and Shikha Gupta

OBJECT

The aim in this study was to quantify the effects of vertebroplasty on endplate subsidence in treated and adjacent vertebrae and their relationship to endplate thickness and underlying trabecular bone in elderly female spines.

METHODS

Vertebral compression fractures were created in female cadaveric (age range 51–88 years) thoracolumbar spine segments. Specimens were placed into either the control or vertebroplasty group (n = 9/group) such that bone mineral density, trabecular microarchitecture, and age were statistically similar between groups. For the vertebroplasty group, polymethylmethacrylate bone cement was injected into the fractured vertebral body under fluoroscopy. Cyclic compression (685–1370 N sinusoid) was performed on all spine segments for 115,000 cycles. Micro-CT scans were obtained before and after cyclic loading to quantify endplate subsidence. Maximum subsidence was compared between groups in the caudal endplate of the superior adjacent vertebra (SVcau); cranial (TVcra) and caudal (TVcau) endplates of the treated vertebra; and the cranial endplate of the inferior adjacent vertebra (IVcra). In addition, micro-CT images were used to quantify average endplate thickness and trabecular bone volume fraction. These parameters were then correlated with maximum endplate subsidence for each endplate.

RESULTS

The maximum subsidence in SVcau endplate for the vertebroplasty group (0.34 ± 0.58 mm) was significantly (p < 0.05) greater than for the control group (−0.13 ± 0.27 mm). Maximum subsidence in the TVcra, TVcau, and IVcra endplates were greater in the vertebroplasty group, but these differences were not significant (p > 0.16). Increased subsidence in the vertebroplasty group manifested locally in the anterior region of the SVcau endplate and in the posterior region of the TVcra and TVcau endplates (p < 0.10). Increased subsidence was observed in thinner endplates with lower trabecular bone volume fraction for both vertebroplasty and control groups (R2 correlation up to 62%). In the SVcau endplate specifically, these 2 covariates aided in understanding subsidence differences between vertebroplasty and control groups.

CONCLUSIONS

Bone cement injected during vertebroplasty alters local biomechanics in elderly female spines, resulting in increased endplate disruption in treated and superior adjacent vertebrae. More specifically, bone cement increases subsidence in the posterior regions of the treated endplates and the anterior region of the superior caudal endplate. This increased subsidence may be the initial mechanism leading to subsequent compression fractures after vertebroplasty, particularly in vertebrae superior to the treated level.

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Vivek Palepu, Jonathan H. Peck, David D. Simon, Melvin D. Helgeson and Srinidhi Nagaraja

OBJECTIVE

Lumbar cages with integrated fixation screws offer a low-profile alternative to a standard cage with anterior supplemental fixation. However, the mechanical stability of integrated fixation cages (IFCs) compared with a cage with anterior plate fixation under fatigue loading has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanical stability of a screw-based IFC with a standard cage coupled with that of an anterior plate under fatigue loading.

METHODS

Eighteen functional spinal units were implanted with either a 4-screw IFC or an anterior plate and cage (AP+C) without integrated fixation. Flexibility testing was conducted in flexion-extension (FE), lateral bending (LB), and axial rotation (AR) on intact spines, immediately after device implantation, and post-fatigue up to 20,000 cycles of FE loading. Stability parameters such as range of motion (ROM) and lax zone (LZ) for each loading mode were compared between the 2 constructs at multiple stages of testing. In addition, construct loosening was quantified by subtracting post-instrumentation ROM from post-fatigue ROM.

RESULTS

IFC and AP+C configurations exhibited similar stability (ROM and LZ) at every stage of testing in FE (p ≥ 0.33) and LB (p ≥ 0.23) motions. In AR, however, IFCs had decreased ROM compared with AP+C constructs at pre-fatigue (p = 0.07) and at all post-fatigue time points (p ≤ 0.05). LZ followed a trend similar to that of ROM in AR. ROM increased toward intact motion during fatigue cycling for AP+C and IFC implants. IFC specimens remained significantly (p < 0.01) more rigid than specimens in the intact condition during fatigue for each loading mode, whereas AP+C construct motion did not differ significantly (p ≥ 0.37) in FE and LB and was significantly greater (p < 0.01) in AR motion compared with intact specimens after fatigue. Weak to moderate correlations (R2 ≤ 56%) were observed between T-scores and construct loosening, with lower T-scores leading to decreased stability after fatigue testing.

CONCLUSIONS

These data indicate that a 4-screw IFC design provides fixation similar to that provided by an AP+C construct in FE and LB during fatigue testing and better stability in AR motion.