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A biomechanical study of two different pedicle screw methods for fixation in osteoporotic and nonosteoporotic vertebrae.

  • Higashino, Kosaku
  • Kim, Jin Hwan
  • Horton, William C
  • Hutton, William C
Published Article
Journal of surgical orthopaedic advances
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2012
PMID: 23327843


In reconstruction of the osteoporotic spine, patients often show poor outcome because of pedicle screw failure. This study used osteoporotic and nonosteoporotic vertebrae to determine the difference in fixation strength between pedicle screws inserted straight forward and pedicle screws inserted in an upward trajectory toward the superior end plate (i.e., end-plate screws). There is some evidence to suggest that end-plate screws have a strength advantage. The particular focus was on osteoporotic vertebrae. Thirty-three vertebrae (T10-L2) were harvested. The bone mineral density (BMD) was measured: 15 vertebrae were greater than 0.8 g/cm(2) and designated as nonosteoporotic (average BMD 1.146 ± 0.186 g/cm(2)) and 18 vertebrae were designated as osteoporotic (average BMD 0.643 ± 0.088 g/cm(2)). On one pedicle the screw was inserted straight forward and on the other pedicle the screw was inserted as an end-plate screw. The torque of insertion was measured (Proto 6106 torque screwdriver). Using an MTS Mini Bionix, two types of mechanical testing were carried out on each pedicle: (a) cephalocaudad toggling was first carried out to simulate some physiological type loading: 500 cycles at 0.3 Hz, at ±50 N; and (b) then each pedicle screw was pulled out at a displacement rate of 12.5 cm/min.There was no difference in pullout force between the pedicle screws inserted straight forward and the pedicle screws inserted as end-plate screws. This result applies whether the vertebrae were osteoporotic or nonosteoporotic. For both the straight-forward screws and the end-plate screws, a statistically significant correlation was observed between torque of insertion and pullout force. The results of this experiment indicate that pedicle screws inserted as end-plate screws do not provide a strength advantage over pedicle screws inserted straight forward, whether the vertebrae are osteoporotic or not.

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