Biomechanical comparison of a fully threaded, variable pitch screw and a partially threaded lag screw for internal fixation of type II dens fractures

William Magee, Werner Hettwer, Mohammed Badra, Brian Bay, Robert Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN. Stiffness and load to failure were studied in a human cadaver model of Type II odontoid fractures stabilized with either a single partially threaded lag screw and washer or a headless fully threaded variable pitch screw. OBJECTIVE. To determine whether a headless fully threaded variable pitch screw provides biomechanically superior fixation of Type II odontoid fractures in comparison with a partially threaded, cannulated lag screw and washer. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA. Surgical treatment of Anderson and D'Alonzo Type II odontoid fractures is often performed using a partially threaded cannulated screw and washer. Reported clinical failure rates of this construct are as high as 20%. This technique requires perforation of the cortex of the tip of the dens, placing the brainstem and vertebrobasilar circulation at risk. A headless fully threaded variable pitch screw has not been described for this application. METHODS. A transverse osteotomy was created at the base of the dens in 16 human cadaver C2 specimens and stabilized using either a headless fully threaded variable pitch screw or a partially threaded cannulated lag screw and washer. Specimens were loaded to failure under a static, posteriorly directed force applied to the surface of the dens. Stiffness and load to failure were measured and the mode of failure for each specimen was determined. RESULTS. Stiffness and load to failure were greater for the headless, fully threaded variable pitch screw compared with the partially threaded lag screw and washer. The mode of failure for all specimens was via anterior screw cut-out at the C2 vertebral body. CONCLUSION. A headless, fully threaded variable pitch screw was biomechanically favorable in comparison with a partially threaded lag screw and washer in this cadaver model of Type II dens fractures. The mode of failure at the C2 vertebral body may have important implications for further improvements in construct strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E475-E479
JournalSpine
Volume32
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

Keywords

  • Anterior screw fixation
  • Biomechanics
  • Odontoid fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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