Pullout of the cranial end-vertebra screw following the correction of a scoliosis with the VDS implant is a common complication. Very little is known about the forces acting on the screws during ventral derotation spondylodesis (VDS) in ventral scoliosis surgery. These forces determine the risk of screw-loosening. The purpose of this study was to identify implant properties and to determine surgical correction strategies that reduce the risk of cranial end-vertebra screw pullout. For this aim, a three-dimensional nonlinear finite element model of a scoliotic thoracic spine was created with a Cobb angle of 61° and 32° rotation. The VDS implant was inserted between T5 and T9. The longitudinal rod diameter, the implant material and seven surgical correction strategies were examined to determine their influence on the Cobb angle as well as on derotation and on axial and transverse forces in the screws. A stiffer implant achieves a better correction but causes higher axial and transverse screw forces. Axial tensile forces act on the screws fixed to the cranial end vertebra and the middle vertebra, while axial compressive forces act on the other screws. A strong correction at the cranial segment leads to high axial and transverse screw forces in the farthest cranial screw and thus to a high risk of screw pullout. The resultant transverse force is often much higher than the axial force component. Simulation of local trunk muscle forces has only a minor effect on the results. The axial tensile forces and thus the risk of screw pullout are highest at the cranial end vertebra. A strategy in which surgical correction is strong in the middle segments and moderate in the outer ones leads to a good reduction of the Cobb angle, a wide derotation angle, and relatively low axial tensile forces at the cranial end vertebra screw.
Scoliosis Ventral derotation spondylodesis (VDS) Finite element analysis Surgical strategy Screw force