Augmentation of anterior lumbar interbody fusion with anterior pedicle screw fixation: Demonstration of novel constructs and evaluation of biomechanical stability in cadaveric specimens

Aftab Karim, Debi Mukherjee, Murali Ankem, Jorge Gonzalez-Cruz, Donald Smith, Anil Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE:: Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) has proven effective for indications including discogenic back pain, nonunion, and instability. Current practice involves posterior pedicle screw augmentation of the ALIF procedure (ALIF-PPS). This approach requires intraoperative repositioning of the patient for percutaneous posterior pedicle screw placement. We have developed a novel technique in which the ALIF procedure is augmented with anterior pedicle screws (APS; ALIF-APS). In this study, we introduce this new technique and compare the biomechanical stability of the novel ALIF-APS with the current standard ALIF-PPS. METHODS:: The technique was demonstrated in a cadaveric L4-S1 specimen using neuronavigation and fluoroscopy. Plain radiographs and computed tomographic scans of the construct were obtained. Twelve cadaveric spines (7 men and 5 women) from donors with an average age of 81 years (range, 64-93 yr) were then harvested from L4-S1. Six specimens were dedicated to ALIF-APS constructs, and the remaining six were dedicated to ALIF-PPS constructs. The specimens were then studied at L5-S1 in the following steps: 1) intact form, 2) after anterior discectomy, 3) after implantation of titanium cages (ALIF), and 4) after APS or PPS fixation in conjunction with the ALIF. Measurements were obtained in axial rotation and left and right lateral bending flexion-extension. Data were normalized by calculating the ratio of the stiffness of the instrumented to the intact spine. Statistical analyses were then performed on the data. RESULTS:: Radiographs and computed tomographic scans of the construct showed accurate placement of the APS at L5 and S1. The normalized data showed that ALIF-APS and ALIF-PPS had approximately equal stability in axial rotation (1.17 ± 0.43 versus 0.85 ± 0.14), lateral bending (0.93 ± 0.22 versus 0.95 ± 0.16), and flexion-extension (0.77 ± 0.13 versus 0.84 ± 0.2). Paired t test analysis did not show a significant difference between the biomechanical stiffness of ALIF-APS and ALIF-PPS in axial rotation, lateral bending, and flexion-extension. CONCLUSION:: We demonstrate a new technique in a cadaveric specimen whereby the ALIF procedure is augmented with APS fixation using neuronavigation and fluoroscopy. Biomechanical evaluation of the constructs suggests that the ALIF-APS has comparable stability with ALIF-PPS. APS augmentation of ALIF has potential advantages over the current standard ALIF-PPS because it can 1) eliminate the patient repositioning step, 2) minimize the total number of incisions and the total operative time, and 3) protect against dislocation of the ALIF interbody graft or cage. Work is in progress to develop a low-profile system for the novel APS constructs described here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)522-527
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Anterior pedicle screw
  • Biomechanics


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