The use of X-shaped cross-link in posterior spinal constructs improves stability in thoracolumbar burst fracture: A finite element analysis

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Abstract

Posterior instrumentation is a common fixation method used to treat thoracolumbar burst fractures. However, the role of different cross-link configurations in improving fixation stability in these fractures has not been established. A 3D finite element model of T11-L3 was used to investigate the biomechanical behavior of short (2 level) and long (4 level) segmental spine pedicle screw fixation with various cross-links to treat a hypothetical L1 vertebra burst fracture. Three types of cross-link configurations with an applied moment of 7.5 Nm and 200 N axial force were evaluated. The long construct was stiffer than the short construct irrespective of whether the cross-links were used (p < 0.05). The short constructs showed no significant differences between the cross-link configurations. The XL cross-link provided the highest stiffness and was 14.9% stiffer than the one without a cross-link. The long construct resulted in reduced stress to the adjacent vertebral bodies and screw necks, with 66.7% reduction in bending stress on L2 when the XL cross-link was used. Thus, the stability for L1 burst fracture fixation was best achieved by using long segmental posterior instrumentation constructs and an XL cross-link configuration. Cross-links did not improved stability when a short structure was used. © 2013 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 31:1447–1454, 2013

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