BACKGROUND: Lumbar spinal fusion with rigid spinal fixators as one of the high risk factors related to adjacent-segment failure. The purpose of this study is to investigate how the material properties of spinal fixation rods influence the biomechanical behavior at the instrumented and adjacent levels through the use of the finite element method. METHODS: Five finite element models were constructed in our study to simulate the human spine pre- and post-surgery. For the four post-surgical models, the spines were implanted with rods made of three different materials: (i) titanium rod, (ii) PEEK rod with interbody PEEK cage, (iii) Biodegradable rod with interbody PEEK cage, and (iv) PEEK cage without pedicle screw fixation (no rods). RESULTS: Fusion of the lumbar spine using PEEK or biodegradable rods allowed a similar ROM at both the fusion and adjacent levels under all conditions. The models with PEEK and biodegradable rods also showed a similar increase in contact forces at adjacent facet joints, but both were less than the model with a titanium rod. CONCLUSIONS: Flexible rods or cages with non-instrumented fusion can mitigate the increased contact forces on adjacent facet joints typically found following spinal fixation, and could also reduce the level of stress shielding at the bone graft.
ASJC Scopus subject areas