Percutaneous pedicle screw fixation (PPSF) is a well-known minimally invasive surgery (MIS) employed in the treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures (TBF). However, hardware failure and loss of angular correction are common limitations caused by the poor support of the anterior column of the spine. Balloon kyphoplasty (KP) is another MIS that was successfully used in the treatment of compression fractures by augmenting the injured vertebral body with cement. To overcome the limitations of stand-alone PPSF, it was suggested to augment PPSF with KP as a surgical treatment of TBF. Yet, little is known about the biomechanical alteration occurred to the spine after performing such procedure. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare the immediate post-operative biomechanical performance of stand-alone PPSF, stand-alone-KP, and KP-augmented PPSF procedures. Novel three-dimensional (3D) finite element (FE) models of the thoracolumbar junction that describes the fractured spine and the three investigated procedures were developed and tested under mechanical loading conditions. The spinal stiffness, stresses at the implanted hardware, and the intradiscal pressure at the upper and lower segments were measured and compared. The results showed no major differences in the measured parameters between stand-alone PPSF and KP-augmented PPSF procedures, and demonstrated that the stand-alone KP may restore the stiffness of the intact spine. Accordingly, there was no immediate post-operative biomechanical advantage in augmenting PPSF with KP when compared to stand-alone PPSF, and fatigue testing may be required to evaluate the long-term biomechanical performance of such procedures.

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