Biomechanical testing of the lumbar facet interference screw

Frank Kandziora, Philip Schleicher, Matti Scholz, Robert Pflugmacher, Tanja Eindorf, Norbert P Haas, Paul W Pavlov
Spine 2005 January 15, 30 (2): E34-9

STUDY DESIGN: An in vitro study was conducted to determine the biomechanical properties of a new simple, percutaneous, posterior fixation technique for the lumbar spine involving a new implant, the so-called Lumbar Facet Interference Screw.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to compare the biomechanical properties of this new fixation device with translaminar and pedicle screw fixation.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Several techniques were described to perform a minimal invasive posterior stabilization of the lumbar spine after an anterior lumbar interbody fusion procedure. Yet, due to the high complexity of these minimally invasive surgical procedures, currently, hardly any of these percutaneous posterior fixation techniques is carried out routinely.

METHODS: Ten human lumbar spines were tested in flexion, extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending using a nonconstrained testing method. First, all motion segments were evaluated intact (group 1). After complete discectomy of L4-L5, the following stabilization techniques were tested sequentially (n = 10/group): group 2: "stand-alone" cage; group 3: cage plus translaminar screws; group 4: cage plus Lumbar Facet Interference Screw; and group 5: cage plus pedicle screws. Stiffness, ranges of motion, and neutral and elastic zones were determined.

RESULTS: In comparison to the intact motion segment, the "stand-alone" cage showed a significantly higher (P < 0.05) range of motion, neutral zone, and elastic zone and a significantly lower (P < 0.05) stiffness in extension and rotation. Generally, all fixation techniques using cages plus posterior stabilization decreased range of motion, neutral zone, and elastic zone and increased stiffness in comparison to the "stand-alone" cage group. There was no significant difference between the cage plus interference screw and the cage plus translaminar screw group in all test modes. In comparison to the 2 facet joint stabilization techniques, pedicle screw stabilization decreased (P < 0.01) range of motion, neutral zone, and elastic zone and increased (P < 0.01) stiffness significantly in flexion and rotation.

CONCLUSIONS: Results of this study indicate that the new Lumbar Facet Interference Screw fixation yields initial biomechanical stability similar to translaminar screw fixation, yet inferior biomechanical stability compared to pedicle screw fixation. Although these results are encouraging, additional biomechanical studies including cyclic loading tests have to evaluate the mid- and long-term stabilization capacity of this new minimally invasive fixation technique before human application.

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