Study Design. An in vitro biomechanical analysis of three anterior instability patterns was performed using calf lumbosacral spines. Stiffness of the constructs was compared, and segmental motion analyses were performed.
Objectives. To clarify the factors that alter the stability of the spinal instrumentation and to evaluate the influence of instrumentation on the residual intact motion segments.
Summary of Background Data. Recently, many adverse effects have been reported in fusion augmented with rigid instrumentation. Only few reports are available regarding biomechanical effects of stability provided by spinal instrumentation and its effects on residual adjacent motion segments in the lumbar‐lumbosacral spine.
Methods. Eighteen calf lumbosacral spine specimens were divided into three groups according to instability patterns‐one‐level, two‐level, and three‐level disc dissections. Six constructs were cyclically tested in rotation, flexion‐extension, and lateral bending of intact spines, of destabilized spine, and of spines with four segmental posterior instrumentation systems used to extend the levels of instability (Cotrel‐Dubousset compression hook and three transpedicular screw fixation systems). During each test, stiffness values and segmental displacements were measured.
Results. The rigidity of the instrumented construct increased as the fixation range became more extensive. Although application of the instrumentation effectively reduced the segmental motion of the destabilized vertebral level, the motion at the destabilized level tended to increase as the number of unstable vertebral levels increased, and the fixation range of the instrumentation became more extensive. Instrumented constructs produced higher segmental displacement values at the upper residual intact motion segment when compared with those of the intact spine. In contrast, the instrumented constructs decreased their segmental displacement values at the lower residual intact motion segment with higher magnitude of the translational (shear) motion taking place compared with the intact spine in flexion‐extension and lateral bending. These changes in the motion pattern became more distinct as the fixation range became more extensive.
Conclusions. As segmental spinal instrumentation progresses from one level to three levels, the overall torsional and flexural rigidity of the system increases. However, segmental displacement at the site of simulated instability becomes more obvious. Application of segmental instrumentation changes the motion pattern of the residual intact motion segments, and the changes in the motion pattern become more distinct as the fixation range becomes more extensive and as the rigidity of the construct increases.