Clinically relevant biomechanical properties of three different fixation techniques of the upper instrumented vertebra in deformity surgery

Edin Nevzati, Manuel Moser, Nick Dietz, Burt Yaszay, Lawrence G. Lenke, Mazda Farshad, Varun Arvind, Samuel K. Cho, Alexander Spiessberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Adjacent segment disease, junctional kyphosis/failure and pseudarthrosis can negatively impact the mid to long-term outcome in spinal deformity surgery. These complications might be influenced by upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) fixation techniques. In this study we analyze key biomechanical properties of three different UIV fixation techniques and define their ideal clinical use based on patient-specific risk profiles using a finite element analysis (FEA) model. Methods: A T9-pelvis posterior instrumented spinal fusion was assumed. Three different FEA models were created based on the UIV fixation technique: T9 pedicle screws (PS); T9 cortical bone screws (CBS); T9 transverse process hooks (TPH). The three FEA models consisted of T8–T10 bone and ligamentous anatomy derived from a CT scan of a healthy patient as well as spinal implants consisting of either pedicle screws, cortical bone screws or transverse process hooks as well as cobalt chromium rods. The FEA models were constrained at T10, axial load as assumed for a healthy 80 kg male during flexion, extension and lateral bending were applied. As surrogate markers for risk of proximal junctional kyphosis, proximal junctional failure, adjacent segment disease and pseudarthrosis the following biomechanical parameters were calculated: UIV range of motion (ROM); intradiscal stress at UIV/UIV + 1; UIV intravertebral stress and screw pull out forces. One-way ANOVA analyses have been performed to compare biomechanical outcome parameters between the three construct variants under investigation. Results: UIV-ROM was restricted during flexion/extension/lateral bending by: PS: 73%/80%/86%, CBS: 71%/81%/85% and TPH: 62%/76%/85%. Average intradiscal stress at UIV/UIV + 1 during flexion/extension/lateral bending was (Mega Pascal, MPa): PS 0.42/0.44/0.38, CBS 0.49/0.4/0.44, TPH 0.66/0.51/0.58; average intravertebral stress of the UIV superior endplate during flexion/extension/lateral bending was (MPa): PS 2.23/2.12/2.21, CBS 1.87/1.98/1.8, TPH 1.67/0.98/1.53. Screw pull-out forces (N) at UIV during flexion/extension/lateral bending were: PS 476/320/375, CBS 444/245/308. Statistically significant differences were found for intradiscal stress as well as vertebral body average stress (p = 0.02 and p = 0.02). Conclusion: Different UIV fixation techniques carry different biomechanical properties. Pedicle screw fixation is the most rigid, leading to the highest UIV stress and UIV screw pull out forces. Cortical bones screw fixation is similarly rigid; however, UIV stress and UIV screw pull out is significantly lower. Transverse process hook fixation is the least rigid, with the lowest UIV stress, however highest intradiscal stress at UIV/UIV + 1. Thus, these biomechanical differences may help select optimal UIV fixation techniques according to patient specific risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1027
Number of pages11
JournalSpine Deformity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Cortical bone screw
  • FEA
  • Junctional failure
  • Junctional kyphosis


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