Do the Position and Orientation of the Crosslink Influence the Stiffness of Spinal Instrumentation?

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Abstract

Study Design:

Biomechanical study of double-level pedicle screw constructs with or without crosslinks (CL) in an unstable model.

Objectives:

The purpose of this study is to investigate the optimal position and orientation of the CL.

Summary of Background Data:

Several reports have described biomechanical research on such CL, but no definite consensus has been reached regarding the effects. Very few studies have examined the position and orientation of the CL. The question of where and how the CL should be clinically set remains unanswered.

Methods:

Ten cadaveric lumbar spines (L3–L5) of boars were used and 7 models were prepared by the sequential damage and spinal instrumentation of each specimen. Bending stiffness was measured in flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation for each model using 6-axis material tester under torque of 0 to ±3 N m. Results for each configuration were compared using analysis of variance and the Turkey-Kramer test.

Results:

In flexion, extension, and lateral bending, 7 models showed similar stiffness with no significant differences. In axial rotation, stiffness increased significantly (P<0.05) in the cephalic, central, caudal, and oblique CL models in comparison with that of the no CL model, and stiffness of the horizontal 2 CL and oblique 2 CL models was significantly higher than that of cephalic, central, caudal, and oblique CL models (P<0.05). However, no significant differences in stiffness were seen between cephalic, central, and caudal CL models, between the central and oblique CL models, or between the horizontal and oblique 2 CL models.

Conclusions:

Concomitant use of CLs significantly increased axial rotational stiffness, even though stiffness in flexion, extension, and lateral bending was not increased. In addition, stiffness in axial rotation significantly improved with the use of 2 CLs instead of a single CL, and stiffness was unchanged by position and orientation of CL.

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