Biomechanical analysis of multilevel cervical corpectomy and plate constructs

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Object

The authors compared the biomechanical stability of two multilevel cervical constructs involving the placement of equal size anterior cervical plates (ACPs) after decompressive surgery: the first is placed after three-level corpectomy with strut graft and the second after two-level corpectomy and aggressive discectomy with strut graft. In addition, both constructs were evaluated with and without the application of a screw attaching the ACP to the strut graft to determine whether the additional screw enhanced stability in any mode of loading.

Methods

Nondestructive repeated-measures in vitro flexibility tests were performed in human cadaveric cervical spines. Nonconstraining pure moments of up to 1.5 Nm were applied while recording three-dimensional angular motion stereophotogrammetrically at each level from C4–5 to C7—T1. Nine specimens underwent the three-level corpectomy/strut graft procedure and eight specimens the two-level corpectomy/discectomy strut graft procedure. Failures during testing eliminated two of the former specimens and three of the latter specimens from analysis.

The construct applied after the two-level procedure allowed a significantly smaller normalized neutral zone during flexion—extension than the three-level construct (p = 0.04). Normalized elastic zone and range of motion were consistently smaller in the two- than in the three-level construct, but the differences were not significant. Addition of a screw to the strut graft significantly reduced motion in the three-level procedure—treated specimens during flexion and lateral bending but had no effect on two-level corpectomy—treated specimens.

Conclusions

The construct associated with the two-level corpectomy/discectomy provided better immediate postoperative stability than that associated with the three-level corpectomy. The addition of a screw to the strut graft conferred stability on the three-level construct but not the two-level construct.

Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Randall W. Porter, M.D., Neuroscience Publications, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85013–4496. email: neuropub@chw.edu.
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