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Eur Spine J. 2005 May;14(4):372-80. Epub 2004 Jul 10.

Effect of constrained posterior screw and rod systems for primary stability: biomechanical in vitro comparison of various instrumentations in a single-level corpectomy model.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics and SCI, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Cervical corpectomy is a frequently used technique for a wide variety of spinal disorders. The most commonly used approach is anterior, either with or without plating. The results for single-level corpectomy are better than in multilevel procedures. Nevertheless, hardware- or graft-related complications are observed. In the past, constrained implant systems were developed and showed encouraging stability, especially for posterior screw and rod systems in the lumbar spine. In the cervical spine, few reports about the primary stability of constrained systems exist. Therefore, in the present study we evaluated the primary stability of posterior screw and rod systems, constrained and non-constrained, in comparison with anterior plating and circumferential instrumentations in a non-destructive set-up, by loading six human cadaver cervical spines with pure moments in a spine tester. Range of motion and neutral zone were measured for lateral bending, flexion/extension and axial rotation. The testing sequence consisted of: (1) stable testing; (2) testing after destabilization and cage insertion; (3a) additional non-constrained screw and rod system with lateral mass screws, (3b) with pedicle screws instead of lateral mass screws; (4a) constrained screw and rod system with lateral mass screws, (4b) with pedicle screws instead of lateral mass screws; (5) 360 degrees set-up; (6) anterior plate. The stability of the anterior plate was comparable to that of the non-constrained system, except for lateral bending. The primary stability of the non-constrained system could be enhanced by the use of pedicle screws, in contrast to the constrained system, for which a higher primary stability was still found in axial rotation and flexion/extension. For the constrained system, the achievable higher stability could obviate the need to use pedicle screws in low instabilities. Another benefit could be fewer hardware-related complications, higher fusion rate, larger range of instabilities to be treated by one implant system, less restrictive postoperative treatment and possibly better clinical outcome. From a biomechanical standpoint, in regard to primary stability the constrained systems, therefore, seem to be beneficial. Whether this leads to differences in clinical outcome has to be evaluated in clinical trials.

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