Biomechanical feasibility of semi-rigid stabilization and semi-rigid lumbar interbody fusion: a finite element study

Chia En Wong, Hsuan Teh Hu, Li Hsing Kao, Che Jung Liu, Ke Chuan Chen, Kuo Yuan Huang

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Semi-rigid lumbar fusion offers a compromise between pedicle screw-based rigid fixation and non-instrumented lumbar fusion. However, the use of semi-rigid interspinous stabilization (SIS) with interspinous spacer and ligamentoplasty and semi-rigid posterior instrumentation (SPI) to assist interbody cage as fusion constructs remained controversial. The purpose of this study is to investigate the biomechanical properties of semi-rigidly stabilized lumbar fusion using SIS or SPI and their effect on adjacent levels using finite element (FE) method. Method: Eight FE models were constructed to simulate the lumbosacral spine. In the non-fusion constructs, semi-rigid stabilization with (i) semi-rigid interspinous spacer and artificial ligaments (PD-SIS), and (ii) PI with semi-rigid rods were simulated (PD + SPI). For fusion constructs, the spinal models were implanted with (iii) PEEK cage only (Cage), (iv) PEEK cage and SIS (Cage+SIS), (v) PEEK cage and SPI (Cage+SPI), (vi) PEEK cage and rigid PI (Cage+PI). Result: The comparison of flexion-extension range of motion (ROM) in the operated level showed the difference between Cage+SIS, Cage+SPI, and Cage+PI was less than 0.05 degree. In axial rotation, ROM of Cage+SIS were greater than Cage+PI by 0.81 degree. In the infrajacent level, while Cage+PI increased the ROM by 24.1, 27,7, 25.9, and 10.3% and Cage+SPI increased the ROM by 26.1, 30.0, 27.1, and 10.8% in flexion, extension, lateral bending and axial rotation respectively, Cage+SIS only increased the ROM by 3.6, 2.8, and 11.2% in flexion, extension, and lateral bending and reduced the ROM by 1.5% in axial rotation. The comparison of the von Mises stress showed that SIS reduced the adjacent IVD stress by 9.0%. The simulation of the strain energy showed a difference between constructs less than 7.9%, but all constructs increased the strain energy in the infradjacent level. Conclusion: FE simulation showed semi-rigid fusion constructs including Cage+SIS and Cage+SPI can provide sufficient stabilization and flexion-extension ROM reduction at the fusion level. In addition, SIS-assisted fusion resulted in less hypermobility and less von Mises stress in the adjacent levels. However, SIS-assisted fusion had a disadvantage of less ROM reduction in lateral bending and axial rotation. Further clinical studies are warranted to investigate the clinical efficacy and safety of semi-rigid fusions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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