Resisting subsidence with a truss Implant: Application of the "Snowshoe" principle for interbody fusion devices

J Biomech. 2023 Jun:155:111635. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2023.111635. Epub 2023 May 13.


The primary objective was to compare the subsidence resistance properties of a novel 3D-printed spinal interbody titanium implant versus a predicate polymeric annular cage. We evaluated a 3D-printed spinal interbody fusion device that employs truss-based bio-architectural features to apply the snowshoe principle of line length contact to provide efficient load distribution across the implant/endplate interface as means of resisting implant subsidence. Devices were tested mechanically using synthetic bone blocks of differing densities (osteoporotic to normal) to determine the corresponding resistance to subsidence under compressive load. Statistical analyses were performed to compare the subsidence loads and evaluate the effect of cage length on subsidence resistance. The truss implant demonstrated a marked rectilinear increase in resistance to subsidence associated with increase in the line length contact interface that corresponds with implant length irrespective of subsidence rate or bone density. In blocks simulating osteoporotic bone, comparing the shortest with the longest length truss cage (40 vs. 60 mm), the average compressive load necessary to induce subsidence of the implant increased by 46.4% (383.2 to 561.0 N) and 49.3% (567.4 to 847.2 N) for 1 and 2 mm of subsidence, respectively. In contrast, for annular cages, there was only a modest increase in compressive load when comparing the shortest with the longest length cage at a 1 mm subsidence rate. The Snowshoe truss cages demonstrated substantially more resistance to subsidence than corresponding annular cages. Clinical studies are required to support the biomechanical findings in this work.

Keywords: 3D Printing; Additive Manufacturing; Degenerative Disc Disease; Interbody fusion; Lumbar fusion; Spine biomechanics; Subsidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Pressure
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Spinal Fusion*
  • Spine