Fabio Galbusera, Gloria Casaroli, Ruchi Chande, Derek Lindsey, Tomaso Villa, Scott Yerby, Ali Mesiwala, Matteo Panico, Enrico Gallazzi, Marco Brayda-Bruno

February 2020, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 295 - 305 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-019-06225-5

First Online: 26 November 2019

Biomechanics of sacropelvic fixation: a comprehensive finite element comparison of three techniques


Sacropelvic fixation is frequently used in combination with thoracolumbar instrumentation for complex deformity correction and is commonly associated with pseudoarthrosis, implant failure and loosening. This study compared pedicle screw fixation (PED) with three different sacropelvic fixation techniques, namely iliac screws (IL), S2 alar-iliac screws (S2AI) and laterally placed triangular titanium implants (SI), all in combination with lumbosacral instrumentation, accounting for implant micromotion.


Existing finite element models of pelvis-L5 of three patients including lumbopelvic instrumentation were utilized. Moments of 7.5 Nm in the three directions combined with a 500 N compressive load were simulated. Measured metrics included flexibility, instrumentation stresses and bone–implant interface loads.


Fixation effectively reduced the sacroiliac flexibility. Compared to PED, IL and S2AI induced a reduction in peak stresses in the S1 pedicle screws. Rod stresses were mostly unaffected by S2AI and SI, but IL demonstrated a stress increase. In comparison with a previous work depicting full osteointegration, SI was found to have similar instrumentation stresses as those due to PED.


Fixation with triangular implants did not result in stress increase on the lumbosacral instrumentation, likely due to the lack of connection with the posterior rods. IL and S2AI had a mild protective effect on S1 pedicle screws in terms of stresses and bone–implant loads. IL resulted in an increase in the rod stresses. A comparison between this study and previous work incorporating full osteointegration demonstrates how these results may be applied clinically to better understand the effects of different treatments on patient outcomes.

Graphic abstract

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