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Biomechanical Testing of Novel Scoliosis Instrumentation
Scoliosis is difficult to treat, particularly in the young. Generally, severe cases require the curved area of the spine, in the thorax, to be straightened and fused using pedicle screws and rods. Such a procedure is very limiting in terms of the patient�s overall range of motion post-operatively. It can be even more of an issue in young patients, as the fusion will prevent growth of the spine, resulting in an abnormally short thorax in adulthood.

This research project concerned the biomechanical testing of dynamic instrumentation for the treatment of scoliosis. The device is designed to gradually alter the load transfer in the scoliotic area of the spine, and in doing so, gradually correct the abnormal curves that are symptomatic of scoliosis.

A synthetic multi-level scoliotic spinal specimen was used to assess stiffness in compression under a follower load, and stiffness in six-degrees of freedom using a custom developed spinal simulator. The specimen was tested without instrumentation, with the new dynamic instrumentation, and with traditional pedicle screw and rod instrumentation (pictured).

The dynamic instrumentation for the treatment of scoliosis appears to minimally alter the stiffness of a specimen. The alternative treatment, fusion via pedicle rods and screws, increased the stiffness in five out of the six axes tested. This pilot study led to a further pre-clinical testing project funded through the Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK).

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