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Timothy C. Ryken, John D. Clausen, Vincent C. Traynelis, and Vijay K. Goel

✓ The bone mineral density (BMD) of 99 cadaveric cervical vertebral bodies (C3–7) was determined using dual x-ray absorptiometry. The vertebral bodies were randomly assigned to receive either a unicortical (51 bodies) or bicortical (48 bodies) Caspar cervical plating screw. The initial insertion torque was measured using a digital electronic torque wrench, and the force required to withdraw the screw from the vertebral body was determined. The mean BMD for the total group of 99 was 0.787 ± 0.154 g/cm2, the mean insertion torque was 0.367 ± 0.243 newton-meters, and the mean pullout force was 210.4 ± 158.1 newtons. A significant correlation was noted between BMD and torque (p < 0.0001, r = 0.42), BMD and pullout force (p < 0.0001, r = 0.54), and torque and pullout force (p < 0.0001, r = 0.88). Although the BMD of the unicortical and bicortical groups was equivalent (p = 0.92), the insertion torque and pullout force differed significantly (p = 0.02 and p = 0.008, respectively) for the unicortical and bicortical groups. A holding index for each screw and insertion technique was defined as the product of the BMD and insertion torque. The calculated holding index and resultant pullout force were significantly correlated for both techniques of screw insertion (r = 0.92), and a significant difference in holding index was observed with unicortical versus bicortical screw placement (p = 0.04). The determination of BMD and measurement of insertion torque to create a unique holding index provides an assessment of bone—screw interaction and holding strength of the screw, both of which impact on the resultant stability of cervical instrumentation. As the number of cervical plating systems increases, the determination of a holding index for various screws and insertion techniques may assist in the comparison of cervical instrumentation.

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Vincent C. Traynelis, Paul A. Donaher, Robert M. Roach, H. Kojimoto, and Vijay K. Goel

✓ Traumatic cervical spine injuries have been successfully stabilized with plates applied to the anterior vertebral bodies. Previous biomechanical studies suggest, however, that these devices may not provide adequate stability if the posterior ligaments are disrupted. To study this problem, the authors simulated a C-5 teardrop fracture with posterior ligamentous instability in human cadaveric spines. This model was used to compare the immediate biomechanical stability of anterior cervical plating, from C-4 to C-6, to that provided by a posterior wiring construct over the same levels. Stability was tested in six modes of motion: flexion, extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation. The injured/plate-stabilized spines were more stable than the intact specimens in all modes of testing. The injured/posterior-wired specimens were more stable than the intact spines in axial rotation and flexion. They were not as stable as the intact specimens in the lateral bending or extension testing modes. The data were normalized with respect to the motion of the uninjured spine and compared using repeated measures of analysis of variance, the results of which indicate that anterior plating provides significantly more stability in extension and lateral bending than does posterior wiring. The plate was more stable than the posterior construct in flexion loading; however, the difference was not statistically significant. The two constructs provide similar stability in axial rotation. This study provides biomechanical support for the continued use of bicortical anterior plate fixation in the setting of traumatic cervical spine instability.

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Patrick W. Hitchon, Vijay Goel, Thomas Rogge, Andrew Dooris, John Drake, and James Torner

Object. The authors conducted a study to determine if the rigidity supplied to the spine by posterior placement of the Ray threaded fusion cage (TFC) is further enhanced by the placement of pedicle screws and, additionally, if bilateral anteriorly placed TFCs render the spine more rigid than a single anteriorly placed TFC.

Methods. Ten human cadaveric spinal specimens (L2—S1) were affixed within a testing frame. Loads of 1.5, 3, 4.5, and 6 Nm were applied to the spine in six degrees of freedom: flexion—extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation. Motion in an x, y, and z cartesian axis system was tracked using dual video cameras following light-emitting diodes attached to the spine and base plate. Load testing of the spines was performed in the intact mode, following which the spinal segments were randomized to receive anterior or posterior instrumentation. In five spine specimens we performed posterior discectomy, posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with placment of femoral rings and pedicle screws, PLIF with bilateral TFCs, and bilateral TFCs with pedicle screws. Five other spines underwent anterior-approach discectomy, followed by implantation of a unilateral cage and bilateral cages. Load testing was performed after each step.

Conclusion. Spines in which PLIF with pedicle screws and TFCs with pedicle screws were placed were more rigid than after discectomy in all directions of motion except flexion. Anterior discectomy provided significantly (p ≤ 0.05) less stability in left and right axial rotation than the intact spines and following posterior discectomy. Following anterior implantation of bilateral TFCs, spines were significantly more rigid than after discectomy in all directions except extension.

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Ali Kiapour, D. Greg Anderson, David B. Spenciner, Lisa Ferrara, and Vijay K. Goel

Object

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) may lead to disabling neurogenic symptoms and has traditionally been treated using open laminectomy. A new technique for correcting LSS involves lengthening the lumbar pedicles through bilateral percutaneous pedicle osteotomies. In this paper, the authors' goal was to evaluate the changes in spinal canal dimensions and kinematic behavior after pedicle-lengthening osteotomies.

Methods

The kinematic behavior of 8 cadaveric lumbar segments was evaluated intact and after bilateral pedicle-lengthening osteotomies at the L-4, L-5, and L-4 and L-5 levels. Testing was conducted with and without a compressive preload using a custom kinematic apparatus that allowed for 3D tracking of each vertebra during flexion-extension, right-left bending, and right-left rotation. A validated finite element (FE) spine model was used to measure the changes in the cross-sectional area of the spinal canal and neural foramen after 2-, 3-, and 4.5-mm simulated pedicle-lengthening osteotomy procedures.

Results

The overall and segmental kinematics were not significantly altered after the pedicle-lengthening osteotomy procedure at the L-4 and/or L-5 pedicles. The kinematic signatures of the intact and lengthened states were similar for all motion pairs. The FE spine model yielded kinematics predictions within or close to the 95% confidence interval for the cadaveric data. The FE spine demonstrated substantial, pedicle length–dependent enlargement of the cross-sectional areas of the spinal canal and neural foramen after simulated pedicle lengthening.

Conclusions

Bilateral pedicle-lengthening osteotomies produced substantial increases in the cross-sectional areas of the spinal canal and neural foramen without significantly altering normal spinal kinematics. This technique deserves further study as a less invasive treatment option for LSS.

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Ali Kiapour, Elie Massaad, Amin Joukar, Muhamed Hadzipasic, Ganesh M. Shankar, Vijay K. Goel, and John H. Shin

OBJECTIVE

Low fusion rates and cage subsidence are limitations of lumbar fixation with stand-alone interbody cages. Various approaches to interbody cage placement exist, yet the need for supplemental posterior fixation is not clear from clinical studies. Therefore, as prospective clinical studies are lacking, a comparison of segmental kinematics, cage properties, and load sharing on vertebral endplates is needed. This laboratory investigation evaluates the mechanical stability and biomechanical properties of various interbody fixation techniques by performing cadaveric and finite element (FE) modeling studies.

METHODS

An in vitro experiment using 7 fresh-frozen human cadavers was designed to test intact spines with 1) stand-alone lateral interbody cage constructs (lateral interbody fusion, LIF) and 2) LIF supplemented with posterior pedicle screw-rod fixation (360° constructs). FE and kinematic data were used to validate a ligamentous FE model of the lumbopelvic spine. The validated model was then used to evaluate the stability of stand-alone LIF, transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), and anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) cages with and without supplemental posterior fixation at the L4–5 level. The FE models of intact and instrumented cases were subjected to a 400-N compressive preload followed by an 8-Nm bending moment to simulate physiological flexion, extension, bending, and axial rotation. Segmental kinematics and load sharing at the inferior endplate were compared.

RESULTS

The FE kinematic predictions were consistent with cadaveric data. The range of motion (ROM) in LIF was significantly lower than intact spines for both stand-alone and 360° constructs. The calculated reduction in motion with respect to intact spines for stand-alone constructs ranged from 43% to 66% for TLIF, 67%–82% for LIF, and 69%–86% for ALIF in flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. In flexion and extension, the maximum reduction in motion was 70% for ALIF versus 81% in LIF for stand-alone cases. When supplemented with posterior fixation, the corresponding reduction in ROM was 76%–87% for TLIF, 86%–91% for LIF, and 90%–92% for ALIF. The addition of posterior instrumentation resulted in a significant reduction in peak stress at the superior endplate of the inferior segment in all scenarios.

CONCLUSIONS

Stand-alone ALIF and LIF cages are most effective in providing stability in lateral bending and axial rotation and less so in flexion and extension. Supplemental posterior instrumentation improves stability for all interbody techniques. Comparative clinical data are needed to further define the indications for stand-alone cages in lumbar fusion surgery.

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Ron I. Riesenburger, Tejaswy Potluri, Nikhil Kulkarni, William Lavelle, Marie Roguski, Vijay K. Goel, and Edward C. Benzel

Object

Both ventral and dorsal operative approaches have been used to treat unilateral cervical facet injuries. The gold standard ventral approach is anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. There is, however, no clear gold standard dorsal operation. In this study, the authors tested the stability of multiple posterior constructs, including unilateral lateral mass fixation supplemented by an interspinous cable.

Methods

Six fresh human cervical spine specimens (C3–T1) were tested by applying pure moments to the C-3 vertebral body in increments of 0.5 Nm from 0 Nm to 2.0 Nm. Each specimen was tested in the following 8 conditions (in the order shown): 1) intact; 2) after destabilization via injury to the C5–6 facet; 3) with bilateral C5–6 lateral mass screws and rods; 4) after further destabilization by creating a right unilateral lateral mass fracture of C-5 (which rendered secure screw placement into the right C-5 lateral mass impossible); 5) with unilateral left C5–6 lateral mass screws and rod; 6) with unilateral C5–6 lateral mass screws and rod supplemented with an interspinous cable; 7) with a bilateral multilevel dorsal construct C4–6; and 8) after a C5–6 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedure with a polyetheretherketone graft and plate.

Results

The bilateral C5–6 lateral mass construct reduced the range of C5–6 motion to 33.6% of normal. The unilateral C5–6 lateral mass construct resulted in an increased range of motion to 110.1% of normal. The unilateral lateral mass construct supplemented by an interspinous cable reduced the C5–6 range of motion to 89.4% of normal. The bilateral C4–6 lateral mass construct reduced the C5–6 range of motion to 44.2% of normal. The C5–6 ACDF construct reduced the C5–6 range of motion to 62.6% of normal.

Conclusions

The unilateral lateral mass construct supplemented by an interspinous cable does reduce range of motion compared with an intact specimen, but is significantly inferior to a C4–6 bilateral lateral mass construct. When using a dorsal approach, the unilateral construct with a cable should only be considered in selected instances.

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John D. Clausen, Timothy C. Ryken, Vincent C. Traynelis, Paul D. Sawin, Franklin Dexter, and Vijay K. Goel

✓ There exist two markedly different instrumentation systems for the anterior cervical spine: the Cervical Spine Locking Plate (CSLP) system, which uses unicortical screws with a locking hub mechanism for attachment, and the Caspar Trapezial Plate System, which is secured with unlocked bicortical screws. The biomechanical stability of these two systems was evaluated in a cadaveric model of complete C5–6 instability. The immediate stability was determined in six loading modalities: flexion, extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation. Biomechanical stability was reassessed following fatigue with 5000 cycles of flexion-extension, and finally, the spines were loaded in flexion until the instrumentation failed. The Caspar system stabilized significantly in flexion before (p < 0.05) but not after fatigue, and it stabilized significantly in extension before (p < 0.01) and after fatigue (p < 0.01). The CSLP system stabilized significantly in flexion before (p < 0.01) but not after fatigue, and it did not stabilize in extension before or after fatigue. The moment needed to produce failure in flexion did not differ substantially between the two plating systems. The discrepancy in the biomechanical stability of these two systems may be due to differences in bone screw fixation.

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Patrick W. Hitchon, Vijay K. Goel, Thomas N. Rogge, James C. Torner, Andrew P. Dooris, John S. Drake, S. J. Yang, and Koji Totoribe

Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the comparative efficacy of three commonly used anterior thoracolumbar implants: the anterior thoracolumbar locking plate (ATLP), the smooth-rod Kaneda (SRK), and the Z-plate.

Methods. In vitro testing was performed using the T9—L3 segments of human cadaver spines. An L-1 corpectomy was performed, and stabilization was achieved using one of three anterior devices: the ATLP in nine spines, the SRK in 10, and the Z-plate in 10. Specimens were load tested with 1.5-, 3-, 4.5-, and 6-Nm in flexion and extension, right and left lateral bending, and right and left axial rotation. Angular motion was monitored using two video cameras that tracked light-emitting diodes attached to the vertebral bodies. Testing was performed in the intact state in spines stabilized with one of the three aforementioned devices after the devices had been fatigued to 5000 cycles at ± 3 Nm and after bilateral facetectomy.

There was no difference in the stability of the intact spines with use of the three devices. There were no differences between the SRK- and Z-plate—instrumented spines in any state. In extension testing, the mean angular rotation (± standard deviation) of spines instrumented with the SRK (4.7 ± 3.2°) and Z-plate devices (3.3 ± 2.3°) was more rigid than that observed in the ATLP-stabilized spines (9 ± 4.8°). In flexion testing after induction of fatigue, however, only the SRK (4.2 ± 3.2°) was stiffer than the ATLP (8.9 ± 4.9°). Also, in extension postfatigue, only the SRK (2.4 ± 3.4°) provided more rigid fixation than the ATLP (6.4 ± 2.9°). All three devices were equally unstable after bilateral facetectomy. The SRK and Z-plate anterior thoracolumbar implants were both more rigid than the ATLP, and of the former two the SRK was stiffer.

Conclusions. The authors' results suggest that in cases in which profile and ease of application are not of paramount importance, the SRK has an advantage over the other two tested implants in achieving rigid fixation immediately postoperatively.

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Patrick W. Hitchon, Vijay Goel, John Drake, Derek Taggard, Matthew Brenton, Thomas Rogge, and James C. Torner

Object. Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) has long been used in the stabilization and reconstruction of traumatic and pathological fractures of the spine. Recently, hydroxyapatite (HA), an osteoconductive, biocompatible cement, has been used as an alternative to PMMA. In this study the authors compare the stabilizing effects of the HA product, BoneSource, with PMMA in an experimental compression fracture of L-1.

Methods. Twenty T9—L3 cadaveric spine specimens were mounted individually on a testing frame. Light-emitting diodes were placed on the neural arches as well as the base. Motion was tracked by two video cameras in response to applied loads of 0 to 6 Nm. The weight-drop technique was used to induce a reproducible compression fracture of T-11 after partially coring out the vertebra. Load testing was performed on the intact spine, postfracture, after unilateral transpedicular vertebroplasty with 7 to 10 ml of PMMA or HA, and after flexion—extension fatiguing to 5000 cycles at ± 3 Nm.

No significant difference between the HA- and PMMA cemented—fixated spines was demonstrated in flexion, extension, left lateral bending, or right and left axial rotation. The only difference between the two cements was encountered before and after fatiguing in right lateral bending (p ≤ 0.05).

Conclusions. The results of this study suggest that the same angular rigidity can be achieved using either HA or PMMA. This is of particular interest because HA is osteoconductive, undergoes remodeling, and is not exothermic.

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Ali Kiapour, Ashutosh Khandha, Elie Massaad, Ian D. Connolly, Muhamed Hadzipasic, Ganesh M. Shankar, Vijay Goel, and John H. Shin

OBJECTIVE

Posterior cervical spine fixation is a robust strategy for stabilizing the spine for a wide range of spinal disorders. With the evolution of spinal implant technology, posterior fixation with lateral mass screws in the subaxial spine is now common. Despite interest in variable rod diameters to meet a wide range of clinical needs such as trauma, revision, and deformity surgery, indications for use of posterior cervical spine fixation are not clear. This laboratory investigation evaluates the mechanical stability and kinematic properties of lateral mass fixation with various commercially available rod diameters.

METHODS

The authors conducted an ex vivo experiment using 13 fresh-frozen human cervical spine specimens, instrumented from C3 to C6 with lateral mass screws, to evaluate the effects of titanium rod diameter on kinematic stability. Each intact spine was tested using a kinematic profiling machine with an optoelectrical camera and infrared sensors applying 1.5-Nm bending moments to the cranial vertebra (C2) simulating flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation anatomical motions. A compressive follower preload of 150 N was applied in flexion-extension prior to application of a bending moment. Instrumented spines were then tested with rod diameters of 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5 mm. The kinematic data between intact and surgical cases were studied using a nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test. A multivariable, multilevel linear regression model was built to identify the relationship between segmental motion and rod diameter.

RESULTS

Instrumentation resulted in significant reduction in range of motion in all three rod constructs versus intact specimens in flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation (p < 0.05). The maximum reductions in segmental ROM versus intact spines in 3.5-, 4.0-, and 4.5-mm rod constructs were 61%, 71%, and 81% in flexion-extension; 70%, 76%, and 81% in lateral bending; and 50%, 60%, and 75% in axial rotation, respectively. Segmental motion at the adjacent segments (C2–3 and C6–7) increased significantly (p < 0.05) with increasing rod diameter. The 4.5-mm rod construct had the greatest increase in motion compared to the intact spine.

CONCLUSIONS

With increasing rod diameters from 3.5 to 4.0 mm, flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation across C3–6 were significantly reduced (p < 0.05). Similar trends were observed with a statistically significant reduction in motion in all anatomical planes when the rod diameter was increased to 4.5 mm. Although the increase in rod diameter resulted in a more rigid construct, it also created an increase (p < 0.05) in the kinematics of the adjacent segments (C2–3 and C6–7). Whether this increase translates into adverse long-term clinical effects in vivo requires further investigation and clinical assessment.