The effect of denosumab on pedicle screw fixation: a prospective 2-year longitudinal study using finite element analysis

J Orthop Surg Res. 2021 Mar 26;16(1):219. doi: 10.1186/s13018-021-02360-2.


Background: Pedicle screw loosening is a major complication following spinal fixation associated with osteoporosis in elderly. However, denosumab is a promising treatment in patients with osteoporosis. The effect of denosumab on pedicle screw fixation is unknown. Therefore, we investigated whether denosumab treatment improves pedicle screw fixation in elderly patients with osteoporosis.

Methods: This was a 2-year prospective open-label study. From February 2015 to January 2016, we included 21 patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis who received initial denosumab treatment. At baseline, 12 months, and 24 months, we measured volumetric bone mineral density (BMD) using quantitative computed tomography (QCT) and performed CT-based finite element analysis (FEA). Finite element models of L4 vertebrae were created to analyze the bone strength and screw fixation.

Results: BMD increased with denosumab treatment. FEA revealed that both pullout strength of pedicle screws and compression force of the vertebra increased significantly at 12 and 24 months following denosumab treatment. Notably, pullout strength showed a stronger correlation with three-dimensional volumetric BMD around pedicle screw placement assessed by QCT (r = 0.83, at 24 months) than with two-dimensional areal BMD assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (r = 0.35, at 24 months).

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first study to reveal that denosumab treatment achieved strong pedicle screw fixation with an increase in BMD around the screw assessed by QCT and FEA; therefore, denosumab could be useful for osteoporosis treatment during spinal surgery in elderly patients with osteoporosis.

Keywords: Denosumab; Finite element analysis; Loosening; Osteoporosis; Pedicle screw.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bone Density*
  • Denosumab / therapeutic use*
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / metabolism*
  • Pedicle Screws / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prosthesis Failure / adverse effects*
  • Spinal Fusion / adverse effects
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Denosumab