Biomechanical analysis of sacral screw strain and range of motion in long posterior spinal fixation constructs: effects of lumbosacral fixation strategies in reducing sacral screw strains

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2012 Feb 1;37(3):E163-9. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e31822ce9a7.


Study design: A cadaveric biomechanical experiment was conducted to assess the range of motion (ROM) and screw strain at S1 in a long instrumented spinal fusion construct to compare the effects of various surgical strategies for L5-S1 stabilization.

Objective: To directly quantify and compare S1 screw strains and lumbosacral ROM for 4 different L2-S1 posterior segmental instrumented fusion constructs: an L2-S1 pedicle screw (PS) construct alone and PS with each of 3 different augmentations, anterior lumbar intebody fusion (ALIF), anterior axial interbody threaded rod (AxiaLITR), or iliac screws.

Summary of background data: Iliac screws and anterior interbody devices are commonly used as augmentation to reduce the incidence of S1 screw loosening in long fusion constructs. Alternatives, such as AxiaLITR, may provide similar biomechanical advantages without many of the same long-term limitations and morbidities.

Methods: Pure moment flexibility testing was performed in 6 cadaveric lumbosacral spines. Specimens were tested with 4 instrumentation constructs: (1) PS L2-S1, (2) PS with ALIF, (3) PS with AxiaLITR, and (4) PS with iliac screws. Bilateral S1 PS were instrumented with strain gauges, directly measuring screw loading while simultaneously measuring L5-S1 ROM with a noncontact camera system.

Results: Average S1 screw strains were the greatest with the PS group and were reduced by 38% with the ALIF group, 75% with the AxiaLITR group, and 78% with the iliac screw group in flexion-extension (P < 0.05). Similar trends were observed in torsion (P < 0.05). Strains in lateral bending were smaller in magnitude and were similar among all 4 constructs. The AxiaLITR and iliac screw groups demonstrated a similar ROM and significant reduction in ROM at L5-S1 compared with both the PS and ALIF groups (P ≤ 0.02 and P < 0.03).

Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that iliac screws and AxiaLITR provide similar stability at L5-S1, while significantly reducing the strain on the S1 screws.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Bone Screws / standards*
  • Cadaver
  • Equipment Failure Analysis / instrumentation
  • Equipment Failure Analysis / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Sacrum / physiology*
  • Sacrum / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Stress, Mechanical