Lumbosacral fusion is a relatively common procedure that is used in the management of an unstable spine. The anterior interbody cage has been involved to enhance the stability of a pedicle screw construct used at the lumbosacral junction. Biomechanical differences between polyaxial and monoaxial pedicle screws linked with various rod contours were investigated to analyze the respective effects on overall construct stiffness, cage strain, rod strain, and contact ratios at the vertebra-cage junction.
A synthetic model composed of two ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene blocks was used with four titanium pedicle screws (two in each block) and two rods fixation to build the spinal construct along with an anterior interbody cage support. For each pair of the construct fixed with polyaxial or monoaxial screws, the linked rods were set at four configurations to simulate 0°, 7°, 14°, and 21° lordosis on the sagittal plane, and a compressive load of 300 N was applied. Strain gauges were attached to the posterior surface of the cage and to the central area of the left connecting rod. Also, the contact area between the block and the cage was measured using prescale Fuji super low pressure film for compression, flexion, lateral bending and torsion tests.
Our main findings in the experiments with an anterior interbody cage support are as follows: 1) large segmental lordosis can decrease the stiffness of monoaxial pedicle screws constructs; 2) polyaxial screws rather than monoaxial screws combined with the cage fixation provide higher compression and flexion stiffness in 21° segmental lordosis; 3) polyaxial screws enhance the contact surface of the cage in 21° segmental lordosis.
Polyaxial screws system used in conjunction with anterior cage support yields higher contact ratio, compression and flexion stiffness of spinal constructs than monoaxial screws system does in the same model when the spinal segment is set at large lordotic angles. Polyaxial pedicle screw fixation performs nearly equal percentages of vertebra-cage contact among all constructs with different sagittal alignments, therefore enhances the stabilization effect of interbody cages in the lumbosacral area.