Article Abstract

Effects of cement augmentation on the mechanical stability of multilevel spine after vertebral compression fracture

Authors: Eelin Tan, Tian Wang, Matthew H. Pelletier, William R. Walsh


Background: Studies on the effects of cement augmentation or vertebroplasty on multi-level spine after vertebral compression fractures are lacking. This paper seeks to establish a 3-vertebrae ovine model to determine the impact of compression fracture on spine biomechanics, and to discover if cement augmentation can restore mechanical stability to fractured spine.
Methods: Five lumbar spine segments (L1-L3) were obtained from 5-year-old female Merino sheep. Standardized wedge-compression fractures were generated in each L2 vertebra, and then augmented with polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) cement mixed with 30% barium sulphate powder. Biomechanical pure moment testing in axial rotation (AR), flexion/extension (FE) and lateral bending (LB) was carried out in the intact, fractured and repaired states. Range of motion (ROM) and neutral zone (NZ) parameters were compared, and plain radiographs taken at every stage.
Results: Except for a significant increase in ROM between the intact and fractured states in AR between L1 and L2 (P<0.05), there were no other significant differences in ROM or NZ between the other groups. There was a trend towards an increase in ROM and NZ in all directions after fracture, but this did not reach significance. Normal biomechanics was only minimally restored after augmentation.
Conclusions: Results suggest that cement augmentation could not restore mechanical stability of fractured spine. Model-specific factors may have had a role in these findings. Caution should be exercised when applying these results to humans.