Biomechanical comparison of two-level cervical locking posterior screw/rod and hook/rod techniques

Document Type



Background context: Locking posterior instrumentation in the cervical spine can be attached using 1) pedicle screws, 2) lateral mass screws, or 3) laminar hooks. This order of options is in order of decreasing technical difficulty and decreasing depth of fixation, and is thought to be in order of decreasing stability. Purpose: We sought to determine whether substantially different biomechanical stability can be achieved in a two-level construct using pedicle screws, lateral mass screws, or laminar hooks. Secondarily, we sought to quantify the differential and additional stability provided by an anterior plate. Study design: In vitro biomechanical flexibility experiment comparing three different posterior constructs for stabilizing the cervical spine after three-column injury. Methods: Twenty-one human cadaveric cervical spines were divided into three groups. Group 1 received lateral mass screws at C5 and C6 and pedicle screws at C7; Group 2 received lateral mass screws at C5 and C6 and laminar hooks at C7; Group 3 received pedicle screws at C5, C6, and C7. Specimens were nondestructively tested intact, after a three-column two-level injury, after posterior C5-C7 rod fixation, after two-level discectomy and anterior plating, and after removing posterior fixation. Angular motion was recorded during flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. Posterior hardware was subsequently failed by dorsal loading. Results: Laminar hooks performed well in resisting flexion and extension but were less effective in resisting lateral bending and axial rotation, allowing greater range of motion (ROM) than screw constructs and allowing a significantly greater percentage of the two-level ROM to occur across the hook level than the screw level (p<.03). Adding an anterior plate significantly improved stability in all three groups. With combined hardware, Group 3 resisted axial rotation significantly worse than the other groups. Posterior instrumentation resisted lateral bending significantly better than anterior plating in all groups (p<.04) and resisted flexion and axial rotation significantly better than anterior plating in most cases. Standard deviation of the ROM was greater with anterior than with posterior fixation. There was no significant difference among groups in resistance to failure (p=.74). Conclusions: Individual pedicle screws are known to outperform lateral mass screws in terms of pullout resistance, but they offered no apparent advantage in terms of construct stability or failure of whole constructs. Larger standard deviations in anterior fixation imply more variability in the quality of fixation. In most loading modes, laminar hooks provided similar stability to lateral mass screws or pedicle screws; caudal laminar hooks are therefore an acceptable alternative posteriorly. Posterior two-level fixation is less variable and slightly more stable than anterior fixation. Combined instrumentation is significantly more stable than either anterior or posterior alone. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Biomechanics, Cervical spine, Laminar hook, Lateral mass screw, Pedicle screw

Publication Date


Publication Title

Spine Journal







First Page


Last Page


PubMed ID


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This document is currently not available here.