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Spinal Instrumentation for Sacral-pelvic Fixation: A Biomechanical Comparison Between Constructs Ending With Either S2 Bicortical, Bitriangulated Screws or Iliac Screws

Kim, Jin-Hwan MD, PhD*,†,‡; Horton, William MD*; Hamasaki, Takahiko MD*; Freedman, Brett MD, PhD*; Whitesides, Thomas E. Jr MD*; Hutton, William C. DSc*,‡

doi: 10.1097/BSD.0b013e3181c37438
Original Articles

Study Design A biomechanical study of 2 fixation techniques for lumbosacral fixation.

Objective To evaluate 2 techniques, one using S1 screws combined with bicortical, bitriangulated (BCBT) S2 screws, and the other using S1 screws combined with iliac screws.

Summary of Background Data Common to the 2 techniques of sacral-pelvic fixation is S1 pedicle screws; the difference lies between S2 screws versus iliac screws. Iliac screws are clinically effective, yet present clinical disadvantages that S2 screws can potentially obviate, for example, wide dissection, soft tissue coverage, crossing the sacroiliac joint, and interference with bone graft harvesting. In an effort to optimize S2 fixation, we have used a BCBT S2 technique.

Methods Eight fresh human sacral-pelvic specimens were harvested (average age 78.7 y; bone density 0.75 g/cm2). Screws were placed bilaterally: (1) at S1: 7.5 mm diameter screws were placed bicortical; (2) at S2: 7.5 mm diameter by 60 mm long screws were placed bicortical and bitriangulated; (3) the ilium received 7.5 mm diameter by 80-mm-long screws. Sacral-pelvic constructs were assembled and biomechanical stiffness testing was performed. The stiffness in each loading mode was calculated. After the stiffness tests were completed, each BCBT S2 screw and each iliac screw were individually loaded to determine fixation strength of each type of screw.

Results There was no significant difference in stiffness between the 2 constructs, although S1 and the BCBT S2 construct tended to be stiffer in all modes. However, for the fixation strength of screws, the iliac screws loosened at loads that were significantly greater than those for BCBT S2 screws (c.f. 435.9 N with 144.7 N).

Conclusions Iliac screws maybe the better choice in cases with poor bone quality. However, the S1-BCBT-S2 screw construct is biomechanically an appropriate alternative to the S1-iliac screw construct and it presents clinical advantages.

*Emory Spine Center, Atlanta, GA

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Inje University, Ilsanpaik Hospital, Koyang-si, Kyunggi-do, Korea

VA Medical Center, Decatur, GA

Reprints: William C. Hutton, DSc, Emory Spine Center, 59 Executive Park South, Atlanta, GA 30329 (e-mail:

Received May 7, 2009

Accepted September 23, 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.