A comparative biomechanical analysis of spinal instability and instrumentation of the cervicothoracic junction: An in vitro human cadaveric model

Brad G. Prybis, Paul J. Tortolani, Nianbin Hu, Candace M. Zorn, Paul C. McAfee, Bryan W. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Stabilization of the cervicothoracic junction is challenging but commonly required in patients with traumatic, neoplastic, congenital, and postlaminectomy conditions. Although extensive research has been performed on stabilization of the cervical spine, there remains a paucity of published data on instrumentation at the cervicothoracic junction. Using 2-column, 3-column, and corpectomy instability models, a biomechanical analysis was performed on the effects of increasing the number of posterior segmental fixation points and/or anterior column reconstruction at the cervicothoracic junction. METHODS: Multidirectional flexibility testing was performed utilizing a 6-degree-of-freedom spine simulator and 7 fresh-frozen human cadaveric spines (occiput-T6). After intact spine analysis, each specimen was destabilized and reconstructed as follows: (1) C7/T1 2-column injury with posterior instrumentation; (2) C7/T1 3-column injury with posterior instrumentation; (3) C7/T1 3-column injury with anterior interbody cage/plate and posterior instrumentation; and (4) C7/T1 3-column injury plus C7 corpectomy with anterior cage/plate and posterior instrumentation. All reconstruction groups were tested with posterior instrumentation (screws connected by dual-diameter rods) from C5-T1, C5-T2, and C5-T3. RESULTS: For 2-column injuries, there were no statistically significant differences in flexibility (P>0.05), although there was a trend toward reduced flexibility with increasing levels of thoracic fixation. For 3-column injuries, posterior fixation alone resulted in excessive flexibility in flexion/extension even with instrumentation to T3 (P<0.05). With the addition of anterior column instrumentation, there were no observed differences in flexion/extension and lateral bending. For axial rotation, instrumentation to T1 alone demonstrated increased motion relative to the intact spine (P<0.05). The 3-column injury with corpectomy model demonstrated similar flexibility properties to the 3-column injury model. CONCLUSIONS: With 3-column instability posterior segmental fixation alone from C5-T3 was inadequate, and the addition of anterior instrumentation restored flexibility to the intact condition. There was a strong trend toward reduced flexibility with increasing levels of thoracic fixation in all instability models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomechanics
  • Cervicothoracic
  • Instability
  • Instrumentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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