European Spine Journal

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 412–416 | Cite as

Clinical outcome after spinal fusion with a rigid versus a semi-rigid pedicle screw system

  • B. Dahl
  • P. Gehrchen
  • P. Blyme
  • T. Kiær
  • E. Tøndevold
Original Article


Several biomechanical studies have evaluated the quality of fusion obtained with a rigid versus a semi-rigid pedicle screw implant. Some studies indicate that increased rigidity of the implant system results in an increased strength of the fusion mass. Other reports have underlined the risk of stress shielding due to rigid implant systems. Based on these findings some authors have recommended the use of a semi-rigid system. There are, however, few studies focusing on any possible difference in clinical outcome between the two different types of implant systems. Questionnaires were sent to 89 patients who had undergone primary spinal fusion with either a rigid or a semi-rigid pedicle-screw-based implant system. In every case the diagnosis was spondylolisthesis or degenerative lumbar disease. The questionnnaires were analysed using forward stepwise logistic regression analysis. Eighty (90%) of the questionnaires were returned. There was a mean follow-up of 4 years (range 2–8 years). It was not possible to demonstrate any difference in clinical outcome between patients undergoing lumbar fusion with a rigid implant system and those given a semi-rigid system. The overall patient satisfaction rate was 69%, with no difference between the two types of implant. No difference in clinical outcome between the two types of implant was found. Considering the fact that the primary goal of spinal fusion procedure is to obtain a solid fusion mass, biomechanical tests favour the used of a rigid pedicle screw system. This fact combined with the fact that early mobilisation is possible with rigid implants justifies the use of rigid implant systems, although no difference in clinical outcome could be demonstrated in this study.

Key words

Outcome Spinal fusion Implant Rigid Semirigid 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Dahl
    • 1
  • P. Gehrchen
    • 1
  • P. Blyme
    • 1
  • T. Kiær
    • 1
  • E. Tøndevold
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics 3191, RigshospitaletUniversity Hospital of CopenhagenKopenhagenDenmark

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