A Kinematic Study of the Cervical Spine Before and After Segmental Arthrodesis

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Abstract

Study Design.

The acute kinematic consequence of segmental arthrodesis in the cervical spine on the remaining open motion segments was studied in a cadaveric model.

Objectives.

To evaluate the distribution of motion across unfused cervical motion segments after a segmental arthrodesis. The applied load was determined as a function of arthrodesis length and level by using a fixed range of motion for the cervical spine (C2-T1).

Summary of Background Data.

An increased incidence of degenerative disease may exist at the levels immediately adjacent to a cervical arthrodesis as a result of alteration in biomechanical behavior at these levels.

Methods.

One-, two-, and three-level fusions were simulated in multilevel ligamentous human cervical spines. Specimens were tested nondestructively through a 30° range of sagittal plane rotation. Motion was recorded using three-dimensional stereophotogrammetry. Sagittal plane rotation of each motion segment in the fusion models was compared with the corresponding rotation in the unfused specimen.

Results.

In the C2-C4 fusion, the increase in motion at C5-C6 was statistically less (P < 0.05) than the increase at C7-T1. In the C2-C5 fusion, the increase in motion at C5-C6 was statistically less (P < 0.05) than the increases at C6-C7 and C7-T1. For each of the five other fusion types tested, no statistical differences existed between the increases in sagittal rotation at any of the open motion segments. The bending moment necessary to produce 30° of sagittal rotation increased nonlinearly as the number of motion segments fused increased.

Conclusions.

Under what was considered a realistic loading paradigm, sagittal plane rotation was not increased disproportionately at the motion segments immediately adjacent to a segmental arthrodesis in the cervical spine. The nonlinear rise in applied bending moment to achieve constant displacement was characteristic of the behavior of the ligaments and intervertebral discs throughout the spine as they underwent increasing deformation.

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