Comparative fixation methods of cervical disc arthroplasty versus conventional methods of anterior cervical arthrodesis: serration, teeth, keels, or screws?

J Neurosurg Spine 12:214–220, 2010 (DOI: 10.3171/2009.9.SPINE08952)

Object. Using a synthetic vertebral model, the authors quantified the comparative fixation strengths and failure mechanisms of 6 cervical disc arthroplasty devices versus 2 conventional methods of cervical arthrodesis, highlighting biomechanical advantages of prosthetic endplate fixation properties.
Methods. Eight cervical implant configurations were evaluated in the current investigation: 1) PCM Low Profile; 2) PCM V-Teeth; 3) PCM Modular Flange; 4) PCM Fixed Flange; 5) Prestige LP; 6) Kineflex/C disc; 7) anterior cervical plate + interbody cage; and 8  ) tricortical iliac crest. All PCM treatments contained a serrated implant surface (0.4 mm). The PCM V-Teeth and Prestige contained 2 additional rows of teeth, which were 1 mm and 2 mm high, respectively. The PCM Modular and Fixed Flanged devices and anterior cervical plate were augmented with 4 vertebral screws. Eight pullout tests were performed for each of the 8 conditions by using a synthetic fixation model consisting of solid rigid polyurethane foam blocks. Biomechanical testing was conducted using an 858 Bionix test system configured with an unconstrained testing platform. Implants were positioned between testing blocks, using a compressive preload of −267 N. Tensile load-to-failure testing was performed at 2.5 mm/second, with quantification of peak load at failure (in Newtons), implant surface area (in square millimeters), and failure mechanisms.
Results. The mean loads at failure for the 8 implants were as follows: 257.4 ± 28.54 for the PCM Low Profile; 308.8 ± 15.31 for PCM V-Teeth; 496.36 ± 40.01 for PCM Modular Flange; 528.03± 127.8 for PCM Fixed Flange; 306.4 ± 31.3 for Prestige LP; 286.9 ± 18.4 for Kineflex/C disc; 635.53 ± 112.62 for anterior cervical plate + interbody cage; and 161.61 ± 16.58 for tricortical iliac crest. The anterior plate exhibited the highest load at failure compared with all other treatments (p < 0.05). The PCM Modular and Fixed Flange PCM constructs in which screw fixation was used exhibited higher pullout loads than all other treatments except the anterior plate (p < 0.05). The PCM VTeeth and Prestige and Kineflex/C implants exhibited higher pullout loads than the PCM Low Profile and tricortical iliac crest (p < 0.05). Tricortical iliac crest exhibited the lowest pullout strength, which was different from all other treatments (p < 0.05). The surface area of endplate contact, measuring 300 mm2 (PCM treatments), 275 mm2 (PrestigeLP), 250 mm2 (Kineflex/C disc), 180 mm2 (plate + cage), and 235 mm2 (tricortical iliac crest), did not correlate with pullout strength (p > 0.05). The PCM, Prestige, and Kineflex constructs, which did not use screw fixation, all failed by direct pullout. Screw fixation devices, including anterior plates, led to test block fracture, and tricortical iliac crest failed by direct pullout.
Conclusions. These results demonstrate a continuum of fixation strength based on prosthetic endplate design.Disc arthroplasty constructs implanted using vertebral body screw fixation exhibited the highest pullout strength. Prosthetic endplates containing toothed ridges (≥ 1 mm) or keels placed second in fixation strength, whereas endplates containing serrated edges exhibited the lowest fixation strength. All treatments exhibited greater fixation strength than conventional tricortical iliac crest. The current study offers insights into the benefits of various prosthetic endplate designs, which may potentially improve acute fixation following cervical disc arthroplasty.