The management of thoracolumbar (TL) burst fractures remained challenging. Due to the complex nature of the fractured vertebrae and the lack of clinical and biomechanical evidence, currently, there was still no guideline to select the optimal posterior fixation strategy for TL burst fracture. We utilized a T10-L3 TL finite element model to simulate L1 burst fracture and four surgical constructs with one- or two-level suprajacent and infrajacent instrumentation (U1L1, U1L2, U2L1, and U2L2). This study was aimed to compare the biomechanical properties and find an optimal fixation strategy for TL burst fracture in order to minimize motion in the fractured level without exerting significant burden in the construct. Our result showed that two-level infrajacent fixation (U1L2 and U2L2) resulted in greater global motion reduction ranging from 66.0 to 87.3% compared to 32.0 to 47.3% in one-level infrajacent fixation (U1L1 and U2L1). Flexion produced the largest pathological motion in the fractured level but the differences between the constructs were small, all within 0.26 deg. Comparisons in implant stress showed that U2L1 and U2L2 had an average 25.3 and 24.8% less von Mises stress in the pedicle screws compared to U1L1 and U1L2, respectively. The construct of U2L1 had better preservation of the physiological spinal motion while providing sufficient range of motion reduction at the fractured level. We suggested that U2L1 is a good alternative to the standard long-segment fixation with better preservation of physiological motion and without an increased risk of implant failure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering
- Physiology (medical)