Study design: Bone mineral density variations throughout the sacrum were measured and correlated with sacral screw insertion torque.
Objective: To quantify bone mineral density variations within the S1 body and ala of young human specimens, especially along the pathways of sacral screws, and to examine the relation between sacral screw fixation and bone mineral density.
Summary of background data: Vertebral bone quality is an essential factor in anterior or posterior screw fixation of the spine. Several studies have been conducted regarding bone mineral density variations in the cervical and thoracolumbar spine. However, such variations in bone mineral density in the sacrum have not been well documented.
Methods: The bone mineral density of 13 sacral specimens from young male cadavers (mean age, 31 years) was measured using highly accurate quantitative computed tomography. Variations in bone mineral density were measured in five transverse layers and seven vertical columns within the S1 body, and in four transverse layers and six vertical columns within the ala. The sacral screw insertion torque was measured (unicortical and bicortical), and the correlation with bone mineral density was calculated.
Results: The mean bone mineral density of the S1 body was 381.9 +/- 59 mg/cm3, which was 31.9% higher than that of the sacral ala (mean, 296.9 +/- 86 mg/cm3) (P < 0.05). Bone mineral density of the superior sacral endplate was higher than that of any other transverse layer. Columns near the lateral posterior and lateral anterior of the S1 body had the highest bone mineral density. In the ala, bone mineral density values of the internal columns (pedicle) were the highest. Screw insertion torque for bicortical purchase along the S1 pedicle correlated well with the bone mineral density of the S1 body (r = 0.67, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: This study quantified the volumetric bone mineral density variations within the S1 body and ala, and a significant linear correlation between the screw insertion torque and bone mineral density was found. Optimal sacral screw insertion pathways were also outlined based on bone mineral density values.