OBJECTIVE : To determine the biomechanical effect of an intervertebral spacer on construct
stiffness in a PVC model and cadaveric canine cervical vertebral columns stabilized with
monocortical screws/polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA).
STUDY DESIGN : Biomechanical study.
SAMPLE POPULATION : PVC pipe; cadaveric canine vertebral columns
METHODS : PVC model – PVC pipe was used to create a gap model mimicking vertebral
endplate orientation and disk space width of large-breed canine cervical vertebrae; 6 models
had a 4-mm gap with no spacer (PVC group 1); 6 had a PVC pipe ring spacer filling the gap
(PCV group 2). Animals – large breed cadaveric canine cervical vertebral columns (C2-C7)
from skeletally mature dogs without (cadaveric group 1, n=6, historical data) and with an
intervertebral disk spacer (cadaveric group 2, n=6) were used. All PVC models and cadaver
specimens were instrumented with monocortical titanium screws/PMMA. Stiffness of the 2
PVC groups was compared in extension, flexion, and lateral bending using non-destructive 4-
point bend testing. Stiffness testing in all 3 directions was performed of the unaltered C4-C5
vertebral motion unit in cadaveric spines and repeated after placement of an intervertebral
cortical allograft ring and instrumentation. Data were compared using a linear mixed model
approach that also incorporated data from previously tested spines with the same
screw/PMMA construct but without disk spacer (cadaveric group 1).
RESULTS : Addition of a spacer increased construct stiffness in both the PVC model (P< .001)
and cadaveric vertebral columns (P<.001) compared to fixation without a spacer.
CONCLUSIONS : Addition of an intervertebral spacer significantly increased construct stiffness
of monocortical screw/PMMA fixation.