A Biomechanical Study of 3 Different Types of Sublaminar Wire Used for Constructs in the Thoracic Spine

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A biomechanical study was carried out on 3 different types of sublaminar wire used in constructs to secure the thoracic spine: stainless steel monofilament wire (steel wire), titanium cable (cable), and ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene tape (tape). Two experiments were carried out. Experiment 1: Thirty-one fresh human thoracic vertebrae classified as osteoporotic (bone mineral density of <0.8 g/cm2) were used. The steel wire, cable, or tape was placed sublaminarly and a tensile force was applied until the steel wire, cable, or tape cut 5 mm through the lamina, and the force at this point was noted. Experiment 2: Seven fresh human thoracic spines (T7–T10) were biomechanically tested as follows: axial compression (250 N), flexion (7.5 Nm), extension (7.5 Nm), left lateral bending (7.5 Nm), right lateral bending (7.5 Nm), left axial torsion (10 Nm), and right axial torsion (10 Nm). This sequence was applied to the intact spine. The spine was then de-stabilized and then restabilized using one or other of the 3 different types of sublaminar wires. The biomechanical testing was then repeated on the restabilized spine and stiffness curves were generated. In the laminar cut-through test, the cut-through force for tape was higher than that for either steel wire or cable. In the biomechanical stiffness testing, there was no significant difference between the 3 different sublaminar wiring constructs in any of the loading modes tested. The results of both experiments suggest that tape is as good, if not better, than steel wire or cable as a sublaminar wiring construct material.

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