Effect of Lumbar Interbody Cage Geometry on Construct Stability: A Cadaveric Study

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Study Design.

Biomechanical study to investigate three-dimensional motion behavior of cadaveric spines in various surgical simulations.


To determine the effect of cage geometry on the construct stability.

Summary of Background Data.

There is a wide variety of cage/spacer designs available for lumbar interbody fusion surgery. These range from circular, tapered, and rectangular with and without curvature. However, the effectiveness of cages with different designs and materials to stabilize a decompressed intervertebral space has not been fully studied.


Six fresh ligamentous lumbar spine specimens (L1–S2) were subjected to pure moments in the six loading directions. The resulting spatial orientations of the vertebrae were recorded using Optotrak™ Motion Measurement System. Measurements were made sequentially for intact, bilateral spacer placements across L4–L5 using a posterior approach, supplemented with pedicle screw-rod system fixation, and after the cyclic loading in flexion-extension mode.


The stability tended to decrease after the bilateral cage placement as compared with the intact for all loading cases except flexion. In flexion, the angular displacement decreased to 80% of the intact. However, there was no significant statistical difference seen in stability between intact and after bilateral spacer placement. Following the addition of posterior fixation using pedicle screw-rod system, the stability significantly increased in all directions. Cyclic loading did not have any significant effect on the stability.


Stand-alone cages restore motion to near-intact levels at best, and supplement instrumentation is essential for significantly increasing the stability of the decompressed segment. The effects of cage geometry and Young’s modulus of the cage material do not seem to influence the stability, as compared with the other cagedesigns, especially after supplemental fixation with a posterior system.

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