Validation of an improved method to calculate the orientation and magnitude of pedicle screw bending moments

Andrew L. Freeman*, Mina S. Fahim, Joan E. Bechtold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Previous methods of pedicle screw strain measurement have utilized complex, time consuming methods of strain gauge application, experience high failure rates, do not effectively measure resultant bending moments, and cannot predict moment orientation. The purpose of this biomechanical study was to validate an improved method of quantifying pedicle screw bending moment orientation and magnitude. Pedicle screws were instrumented to measure biplanar screw bending moments by positioning four strain gauges on flat, machined surfaces below the screw head. Screws were calibrated to measure bending moments by hanging certified weights a known distance from the strain gauges. Loads were applied in 30 deg increments at 12 different angles while recording data from two independent strain channels. The data were then analyzed to calculate the predicted orientation and magnitude of the resultant bending moment. Finally, flexibility tests were performed on a cadaveric motion segment implanted with the instrumented screws to demonstrate the implementation of this technique. The difference between the applied and calculated orientation of the bending moments averaged (±standard error of the mean (SEM)) 0.3±0.1 deg across the four screws for all rotations and loading conditions. The calculated resultant bending moments deviated from the actual magnitudes by an average of 0.00±0.00 Nm for all loading conditions. During cadaveric testing, the bending moment orientations were medial/lateral in flexion-extension, variable in lateral bending, and diagonal in axial torsion. The technique developed in this study provides an accurate method of calculating the orientation and magnitude of screw bending moments and can be utilized with any pedicle screw fixation system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104502
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • interbody fusion
  • lumbar spine biomechanics
  • pedicle screw strain
  • spine loading


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