Effects of Bone Mineral Density on Pedicle Screw Fixation

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Abstract

Study Design

In an attempt to evaluate the effects of bone mineral density on the quality of fixation of pedicle screws in the lumbar spine, the axial pullout force was determined and compared in normal and osteoporotic human lumbar spines.

Objectives

Four techniques of screw hole preparation were evaluated. Two pedicle screw/offset laminar hook constructs also were evaluated to determine whether the adjunct fixation of the laminar hooks would improve quality of fixation to a level sufficient to allow their use in the osteoporotic lumbar spine.

Methods

Pedicle screws were inserted by one of the listed techniques into fresh frozen cadaveric human spines. The fixation strength then was evaluated by pullout on a uniaxial testing frame.

Results

Bone mineral density was a strong influence on axial pullout force. In normal bone, the method of screw hole preparation did not significantly affect the quality of fixation. However, in the osteoporotic spine, either an untapped screw hole or the tapping of a screw hole with a 5.5 mm tap improved the pullout force a statistically significant amount (P < 0.003). Also, a pedicle screw with offset hooks at two adjacent levels improved the fixation significantly, increasing the pullout force to twice the expected value.

Conclusion

Pedicle screw pullout strength was highly correlated with bone mineral density. A 5.5 mm tap or preparation with a ganglion knife improved pullout strength. Use of pedicle screws in conjunction with laminar hooks at two levels improved pullout strength.

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