Comparison of stiffness and failure load of two cervical spine fixation techniques in an in vitro human model

Robert Hart, Joel Gillard, Shilpa Prem, Marie Shea, Scott Kitchel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Recently, an unpaired threaded cage has been introduced as a fusion device for the cervical spine. No biomechanical comparison of a stand-alone single interbody threaded cage to a standard plated Smith-Robinson construct has been reported. Accordingly, an in vitro biomechanical comparison of a single threaded cylindrical interbody fusion cage versus a plated Smith-Robinson cervical discectomy and fusion construct was conducted to establish whether a single cylindrical interbody cage in the cervical spine would perform mechanically as well as a plated structural interbody graft. METHODS: Six fresh-frozen human cadaveric cervical spines were used for biomechanical testing. Flexion-extension and load-to-failure testing were performed on two single-level discectomy and interbody fusion constructs from each specimen. RESULTS: Initial range of motion (ROM) was significantly greater for the specimens implanted with a cage than specimens implanted with a structural graft and plate (9.1° ± 3.7° vs 5.8° ± 2.4°; P = 0.040). Initial stiffness in flexion in caged specimens was significantly less than in plated specimens (0.7 ± 0.3 vs 0.9 ± 0.3 Nm/°; P = 0.028). Cage specimens also failed at a significantly lower load than plated specimens (9.8 ± 3.5 vs 15.8 ± 4.1 Nm; P = 0.0104). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that a plated Smith-Robinson cervical discectomy and fusion construct provides greater stiffness and failure load and reduced ROM across operated levels than a single interbody cage construct. Although clinical success may not directly correlate with biomechanical data, these results raise concern regarding the use of a single threaded interbody cage as a stand-alone device for cervical interbody fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S115-S118
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005



  • Biomechanics
  • Cervical fusion
  • Cervical interbody cage
  • In vitro

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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