Assessment of different screw augmentation techniques and screw designs in osteoporotic spines

Eur Spine J. 2008 Nov;17(11):1462-9. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0769-8. Epub 2008 Sep 10.


This is an experimental study on human cadaver spines. The objective of this study is to compare the pullout forces between three screw augmentation methods and two different screw designs. Surgical interventions of patients with osteoporosis increase following the epidemiological development. Biomechanically the pedicle provides the strongest screw fixation in healthy bone, whereas in osteoporosis all areas of the vertebra are affected by the disease. This explains the high screw failure rates in those patients. Therefore PMMA augmentation of screws is often mandatory. This study involved investigation of the pullout forces of augmented transpedicular screws in five human lumbar spines (L1-L4). Each spine was treated with four different methods: non-augmented unperforated (solid) screw, perforated screw with vertebroplasty augmentation, solid screw with vertebroplasty augmentation and solid screw with balloon kyphoplasty augmentation. Screws were augmented with Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). The pullout forces were measured for each treatment with an Instron testing device. The bone mineral density was measured for each vertebra with Micro-CT. The statistical analysis was performed with a two-sided independent student t test. Forty screws (10 per group and level) were inserted. The vertebroplasty-augmented screws showed a significant higher pullout force (mean 918.5 N, P = 0.001) than control (mean 51 N), the balloon kyphoplasty group did not improve the pullout force significantly (mean 781 N, P > 0.05). However, leakage occurred in some cases treated with perforated screws. All spines showed osteoporosis on Micro-CT. Vertebroplasty-augmented screws, augmentation of perforated screws and balloon kyphoplasty augmented screws show higher pullout resistance than non-augmented screws. Significant higher pullout forces were only reached in the vertebroplasty augmented vertebra. The perforated screw design led to epidural leakage due to the position of the perforation in the screw. The position of the most proximal perforation is critical, depending on screw design and proper insertion depth. Nevertheless, using a properly designed perforated screw will facilitate augmentation and instrumentation in osteoporotic spines.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Cements / therapeutic use
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Bone Screws / adverse effects
  • Bone Screws / standards*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Complications / etiology
  • Intraoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Intraoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / pathology*
  • Osteoporosis / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / prevention & control
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / pathology*
  • Spine / surgery*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Vertebroplasty / instrumentation
  • Vertebroplasty / methods
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology


  • Bone Cements