Experimental burst fracture models are often developed by using either single or incremental impacts. In both protocols, the weight-drop technique produces the impact. However, to the authors' knowledge in no study have researchers attempted to compare the equivalence of the spine burst fracture produced using the different impact protocols. This study was performed to investigate whether the single and incremental trauma approaches produce equivalent degrees of severity in thoracolumbar burst fractures.
Twenty bovine thoracolumbar spines comprising three vertebrae were divided evenly into the single impact and incremental impact groups. The specimens in the incremental impact group were subjected to three axial compressive impacts of increasing energy (78.4, 107.8, and 137.2 J), whereas specimens in the other group were subjected to a single impact (137.2 J). Before and after the final trauma, multidirectional flexibility of each specimen was measured under flexion/extension, right/left lateral bending, and right/left axial rotation, thus quantifying the instability of the fracture. The flexibility parameters were then compared between the two groups.
A significant increase in flexibility parameters was found after the final trauma in both groups, indicating the instability of the spine (p < 0.01). No significant differences in flexibility parameters were observed in either intact status or injured status between the two groups (p > 0.05).
In this study the authors have confirmed that the single and incremental impact protocols produced a similar degree of severity in producing an in vitro bovine burst fracture. The results of this study support the use of the incremental impact protocol in future experimental biomechanical studies.