The biomechanical contribution of varying posterior constructs following anterior thoracolumbar corpectomy and reconstruction

Laboratory investigation

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Object

Thoracolumbar corpectomy is a procedure commonly required for the treatment of various pathologies involving the vertebral body. Although the biomechanical stability of anterior reconstruction with plating has been studied, the biomechanical contribution of posterior instrumentation to anterior constructs remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate biomechanical stability after anterior thoracolumbar corpectomy and reconstruction with varying posterior constructs by measuring bending stiffness for the axes of flexion/extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation.

Methods

Seven fresh human cadaveric thoracolumbar spine specimens were tested intact and after L-1 corpectomy and strut grafting with 4 different fixation techniques: anterior plating with bilateral, ipsilateral, contralateral, or no posterior pedicle screw fixation. Bending stiffness was measured under pure moments of ± 5 Nm in flexion/extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation, while maintaining an axial preload of 100 N with a follower load. Results for each configuration were normalized to the intact condition and were compared using ANOVA.

Results

Spinal constructs with anterior-posterior spinal reconstruction and bilateral posterior pedicle screws were significantly stiffer in flexion/extension than intact spines or spines with anterior plating alone. Anterior plating without pedicle screw fixation was no different from the intact spine in flexion/extension and lateral bending. All constructs had reduced stiffness in axial rotation compared with intact spines.

Conclusions

The addition of bilateral posterior instrumentation provided significantly greater stability at the thoracolumbar junction after total corpectomy than anterior plating and should be considered in cases in which anterior column reconstruction alone may be insufficient. In cases precluding bilateral posterior fixation, unilateral posterior instrumentation may provide some additional stability.

Abbreviation used in this paper: VB = vertebral body.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Meic H. Schmidt, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah School of Medicine, 175 North Medical Drive East Salt Lake City, Utah 84132. email: neuropub@hsc.utah.edu.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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