Anterior vertebral stapling for the fusionless correction of scoliosis

Shillington, Mark Pernell (2008) Anterior vertebral stapling for the fusionless correction of scoliosis. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Fusionless scoliosis surgery is an emerging treatment for idiopathic scoliosis as it offers theoretical advantages over current forms of treatment. Currently the treatment options for idiopathic scoliosis are observation, bracing and fusion. While brace treatment is non-invasive, and preserves the growth, motion, and function of the spine, it does not correct deformity and is only modestly successful in preventing curve progression. In adolescents who fail brace treatment, surgical treatment with an instrumented spinal fusion usually results in better deformity correction but is associated with substantially greater risk. Furthermore in younger patients requiring surgical treatment, fusion procedures are known to adversely effect the future growth of the chest and spine. Fusionless treatments have been developed to allow effective surgical treatment of patients with idiopathic scoliosis who are too young for fusion procedures. Anterior vertebral stapling is one such fusionless treatment which aims to modulate the growth of vertebra to allow correction of scoliosis whilst maintaining normal spinal motion
The Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Brisbane has begun to use anterior vertebral stapling to treat patients with idiopathic scoliosis who are too young for fusion procedures. Currently the only staple approved for clinical use is manufactured by Medtronic Sofamor Danek (Memphis, TN). This thesis explains the biomechanical and anatomical changes that occur following anterior vertebral staple insertion using in vitro experiments performed on an immature bovine model. Currently there is a paucity of published information about anterior vertebral stapling so it is hoped that this project will provide information that will aid in our understanding of the clinical effects of staple insertion. The aims of this experimental study were threefold. The first phase was designed to determine the changes in the bending stiffness of the spine following staple insertion. The second phase was designed to measure the forces experienced by the staple during spinal movements. The third and final phase of testing was designed to describe the structural changes that occur to a vertebra as a consequence of staple insertion. The first phase of testing utilised a displacement controlled testing robot to compare the change in stiffness of a single spinal motion segment following staple insertion for the three basic spinal motions of flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation. For the second phase of testing strain gauges were attached to staples and used to measure staple forces during spinal movement. In the third and final phase the staples were removed and a testing specimen underwent micro-computed tomography (CT) scanning to describe the anatomical changes that occur following staple insertion. The displacement controlled testing showed that there was a significant decrease in bending stiffness in flexion, extension, lateral bending away from the staple, and axial rotation away from the staple following staple insertion. The strain gauge measurements showed that the greatest staple forces occurred in flexion and the least in extension. In addition, a reduction in the baseline staple compressive force was seen with successive loading cycles. Micro-CT scanning demonstrated that significant damage to the vertebral body and endplate occurred as a consequence of staple insertion. The clinical implications of this study are significant. Based on the findings of this project it is likely that the clinical effect of the anterior vertebral staple evaluated in this project is a consequence of growth plate damage (also called hemiepiphysiodesis) causing a partial growth arrest of the vertebra rather than simply compression of the growth plate. The surgical creation of a unilateral growth arrest is a well established treatment used in the management of congenital scoliosis but has not previously been considered for use in idiopathic scoliosis.

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ID Code: 30421
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Adam, Clayton & Pearcy, Mark
Keywords: fusionless scoliosis surgery, spine biomechanics, thoracic spine, staples, shape memory alloy, strain, growth modulation, hemiepiphysiodesis, bovine vertebra, micro-computed tomography, endoscopy, thorascopic
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Feb 2010 06:12
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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