Anterior Vertebral Body Screw Pullout Testing: A Comparison of Zielke, Kaneda, Universal Spine System, and Universal Spine System With Pullout-Resistant Nut

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Abstract

Study Design.

A biomechanical study of pullout of anteriorly implanted screws in cadaveric vertebral bodies.

Objectives.

To investigate and compare the pullout strength of the Zielke, Kaneda, Universal Spine System (USS) pedicle screw, and USS pedicle screw with a new pullout-resistant nut.

Summary of Background Data.

A common problem with anterior purchase regardless of the implant system is screw pullout at the proximal and distal ends of multilevel constructs. There is limited information on a solution to this problem.

Methods.

The L1 to L4 vertebral bodies from four cadavers had one each of Zielke and Kaneda pedicle screws (Acromed Corp., Cleveland, OH), USS pedicle screw (Synthes Spine, Paoli, PA), and USS pedicle screw with pullout-resistant nut implanted transversely across the center of the vertebral body with bicortical purchase in a similar fashion as would be used clinically. The screws were extracted using a servohydraulic material testing system. The maximum axial forces were recorded.

Results.

The Zielke and Kaneda screws had no significant difference in mean pullout strength (P = 0.542). The USS screw alone was less strong (P = 0.009). The USS screw and pullout-resistant nut increased the pullout strength by twofold (P = 0.00006). In the screw pullout tests, the mode of failure was at the screw thread's interface. The USS screw and pullout-resistant nut failed by imploding the body around the nut. With the USS screw and pullout-resistant nut, the pullout strength was determined by the compressive strength of the bone.

Conclusions.

The addition of a pullout-resistant nut to an anterior vertebral body screw improves the pullout strength by twofold and changes the mode of failure to rely ultimately on the inherent vertebral body strength rather than the screw's characteristics. The addition of a pullout-resistant nut may be applicable to multilevel implant constructs to prevent screw pullout at the top and bottom.

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