José M. Spirig, Elin Winkler, Frédéric Cornaz, Marie-Rosa Fasser, Michael Betz, Jess G. Snedeker, Jonas Widmer, Mazda Farshad

August 2021, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 2292 - 2300 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06878-1

First Online: 31 May 2021


The cortical bone trajectory (CBT) is an alternative to the traditional pedicle screw trajectory (TT) in posterior spinal instrumentation, enhancing screw contact with cortical bone and therefore increasing fixation strength. Additional to the trajectory, insertion depth (pericortical vs. bicortical placement) could be a relevant factor affecting the fixation strength. However, the potential biomechanical benefit of a bicortical placement of CBT screws is unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to quantify the fixation strength of pericortical- versus bicortical-CBT (pCBT versus bCBT) screws in a randomized cadaveric study.


Pedicle screws were either placed pericortical or bicortical with a CBT in 20 lumbar vertebrae (2 × 20 instrumented pedicles) from four human spine cadavers by using patient-specific templates. Instrumented specimens underwent physiological cyclic loading testing (1′800′000 cycles, 10 Hz), including shear and tension loads as well as bending moments. Translational and angular displacements of the screws were quantified and compared between the two techniques.


There was a slight decrease in translational (0.2 mm ± 0.09 vs. 0.24 mm ± 0.11) and angular displacements (0.06° ± 0.05 vs. 0.13° ± 0.11) of bCBT screws when compared with pCBT screws after 1′800′000 cycles. However, the results were non-significant (p > 0.05).


The authors do not recommend placing CBT screws bicortically, as no relevant biomechanical advantage is gained while the potential risk for iatrogenic injury to structures anterior to the spine is increased.

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