Spinal Reconstruction Techniques for Traumatic Spinal Injuries: A Systematic Review of Biomechanical Studies

Andrei F. Joaquim*, Joseph P. Maslak, Alpesh A. Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Study Design: Systematic literature review. Objectives: Many studies have provided evidence that short-segment posterior fixation (SSPF—1 level above and 1 below) with screws at the fracture level (SFL) are enough to achieve stability in some injury patterns, such as burst fractures, avoiding the need for circumferential reconstruction and long-segment instrumented fusion (LSIF—at least 2 levels above and 2 below). Given the potential benefits of avoiding unnecessary fusion in mobile healthy spinal segments, we performed a systematic review of biomechanical studies comparing different spinal reconstruction techniques for fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Methods: A systematic literature review was performed in the PubMed and OVID databases of biomechanical studies comparing biomechanical differences between techniques of spine reconstructions. Results: Eight studies were included and evaluated. Five of 6 studies reported stiffness improvement with SSPF and SFL, even comparable to circumferential fusion for a burst fracture. Two studies reported that LSPF has higher stiffness and restricts range of motion better than SSPF, but inclusion of screws in the fracture level is similar to LSPF (1 study). Finally, although SSPF is less stiff than anterior reconstruction, adding a SFL in SSPF results in similar stiffness than circumferential fusion for unstable burst fractures. Conclusions: Biomechanical studies analyzed generally suggested that SFL in SSPF may improve construction stiffness, and can even be compared with long-segment fixation or circumferential reconstruction in some scenarios. This construct option may be used to enhance stiffness in selected injury patterns, avoiding the needs of an additional anterior approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-347
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • biomechanics
  • burst fracture
  • circumferential
  • long segment
  • posterior fusion
  • short segment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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