Stress analysis in a pedicle screw fixation system with flexible rods in the lumbar spine

Kyungsoo Kim, Won Man Park, Yoon Hyuk Kim, Sukyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Breakage of screws has been one of the most common complications in spinal fixation systems. However, no studies have examined the breakage risk of pedicle screw fixation systems that use flexible rods, even though flexible rods are currently being used for dynamic stabilization. In this study, the risk of breakage of screws for the rods with various flexibilities in pedicle screw fixation systems is investigated by calculating the von Mises stress as a breakage risk factor using finite element analysis. Three-dimensional finite element models of the lumbar spine with posterior one-level spinal fixations at L4-L5 using four types of rod (a straight rod, a 4 mm spring rod, a 3mm spring rod, and a 2mm spring rod) were developed. The von Mises stresses in both the pedicle screws and the rods were analysed under flexion, extension, lateral bending, and torsion moments of 10Nm with a follower load of 400N. The maximum von Mises stress, which was concentrated on the neck region of the pedicle screw, decreased as the flexibility of the rod increased. However, the ratio of the maximum stress in the rod to the yield stress increased substantially when a highly flexible rod was used. Thus, the level of rod flexibility should be considered carefully when using flexible rods for dynamic stabilization because the intersegmental motion facilitated by the flexible rod results in rod breakage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering


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