Traditional and cortical trajectory screws of static and dynamic lumbar fixation- a finite element study


Two types of screw trajectories are commonly used in lumbar surgery. Both traditional trajectory (TT) and cortical bone trajectory (CBT) were shown to provide equivalent pull-out strengths of a screw. CBT utilizing a laterally-directed trajectory engaging only cortical bone in the pedicle is widely used in minimal invasive spine posterior fusion surgery. It has been demonstrated that CBT exerts a lower likelihood of violating the facet joint, and superior pull-out strength than the TT screws, especially in osteoporotic vertebral body. No design yet to apply this trajectory to dynamic fixation. To evaluate kinetic and kinematic behavior in both static and dynamic CBT fixation a finite element study was designed. This study aimed to simulate the biomechanics of CBT-based dynamic system for an evaluation of CBT dynamization.


A validated nonlinearly lumbosacral finite-element model was used to simulate four variations of screw fixation. Responses of both implant (screw stress) and tissues (disc motion, disc stress, and facet force) at the upper adjacent (L3-L4) and fixed (L4-L5) segments were used as the evaluation indices. Flexion, extension, bending, and rotation of both TT and CBT screws were simulated in this study for comparison.


The results showed that the TT static was the most effective stabilizer to the L4-L5 segment, followed by CBT static, TT dynamic, and the CBT dynamic, which was the least effective. Dynamization of the TT and CBT fixators decreased stability of the fixed segment and alleviate adjacent segment stress compensation. The 3.5-mm diameter CBT screw deteriorated stress distribution and rendered it vulnerable to bone-screw loosening and fatigue cracking.


Modeling the effects of TT and CBT fixation in a full lumbosacral model suggest that dynamic TT provide slightly superior stability compared with dynamic CBT especially in bending and rotation. In dynamic CBT design, large diameter screws might avoid issues with loosening and cracking.


Adjacent segment degeneration; Cortical bone trajectory; Finite-element analysis; Lumbar instability; Pedicle.

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