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Changes in the loads on an internal spinal fixator after iliac-crest autograft

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Spines are often stabilised posteriorly by internal fixation and anteriorly by a bone graft. The effect of an autologous bone graft from the iliac crest on implant loads is unknown. We used an internal spinal fixation device with telemetry to measure implant loads for several body positions and activities in nine patients before and after anterior interbody fusion. With the body upright, implant loads were often higher after than before fusion using a bone graft. Distraction of the bridged region led to high implant loads in patients with a fractured vertebra and to marked changes in load in those with degenerative instability. Leaving the lower of the bridged intervertebral discs intact led to only small changes in fixator load after anterior interbody fusion. A bone graft alone does not guarantee a reduction of implant loads.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr A. Rohlmann.

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