A comparative biomechanical study of spinal fixation using cotrel-dubousset instrumentation

J. P. Farcy, M. Weidenbaum, C. B. Michelsen, D. A. Hoeltzel, K. A. Athanasiou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A biomechanical study was performed comparing the stiffness and stability of Cotrel-Dubousset (CD) spinal instrumentation with that of segmentally wired Harrington distraction rods and segmentally wired Luque rods under conditions of single-level instability. The axial and torsional stiffness coefficients of each system were determined on a customized geometric spine simulator fashioned from stainless steel. The relative stability of each instrumentation system on bovine thoracic spines from 12-week-old calves, destabilized by anterior vertebrectomy to create simulated two column instability. Thirteen spines were tested. Each specimen was tested under axial and torsional loading conditions while monitoring with a personal computer-based data acquisition system was performed. The stability of first- and second-level CD instrumentation was tested on the bovine specimens. First-level CD instrumentation involved double-hook fixation one level above an below the level of instability. Second-level CD instrumentation involved fixation two levels above and below the level of instability without fixation at the intermediate level. In axial loading, double-level wired Harrington distraction rods, double-level wired Luque rods, and first-level CD rods were 26.5%, 18.4%, and 21.5%, respectively, as stable as second-level CD instrumentation. In torsion, double-level Harrington, doubel-level Luque, and second-level CD rods were 13%, 64%, and 34%, respectively, as stable as first level CD instrumentation. Locking hooks, double-hook configurations, and stabilizing transverse traction devices of the CD contributed to its greater stability. First-level CD instrumentation is recommended for rotational instability while second-level CD instrumentation is preferred for axial instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)877-881
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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