Enhancing pedicle screw fixation in the lumbar spine using allograft bone plug interference fixation

Bopha Chrea, Harsha Malempati, Jeffrey R. Campbell, Sonja Khan, Randal P. Ching, Michael J. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Study Design: A within-subjects controlled laboratory study. Objective: To examine a biological alternative to cement augmentation for pedicle screw fixation comparing bilateral axial pullout tests of augmented and nonaugmented (controls) pedicle screws. Summary of Background Data: Fixation in the osteoporotic spine remains a difficult challenge with failure by loosening or backout. Pedicle screw augmentation has been attempted using polymethylmethacrylate and bioabsorbable calcium cements; however, the potential for extravasation and embolization of cement are becoming increasingly concerning and merit the search for alternative methods to improve screw-anchoring strength. Methods: Twenty-four (24) fresh human lumbar vertebrae were tested to compare the pullout strength of augmented and nonaugmented pedicle screws. Two different augmentation strategies were employed using allograft bone plugs (ABPs) and evaluated using 12 specimens per group. Bone mineral density of each specimen was obtained using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The augmented versus nonaugmented pedicle was randomized for each vertebra, and bilateral testing enabled paired statistical analyses. Axial pullout tests were performed using an materials testing system servohydraulic test system, and peak force, failure displacement, and stiffness was obtained for each test and correlated with bone mineral density. Results: Augmentation using 6-mm-diameter ABPs with 6.25- mm-diameter pedicle screws resulted in statistically weaker average pullout strength (775±455 N) than the nonaugmented controls (1233±826 N). When using smaller (5mm diameter) AGPs with the same diameter screws, there was no statistical difference between average pullout strength for the augmented pedicle screws (1772±652 N) and the nonaugmented screws (1780±575 N). Conclusions: Preliminary study of pedicle screw augmentation using cannulated ABPs showed no improvement of fixation with pedicles in the spine. This was even true in osteoporotic specimens, where augmentation would seem to be of considerable benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E81-E87
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Lumbar spine
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pedicle screw
  • Spine fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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