Facet arthroplasty is a motion restoring procedure. It is normally suggested as an alternative to rigid fixation after destabilizing decompression procedures in the posterior lumbar spine. While previous studies have reported successful results in reproducing normal spine kinematics after facet replacement at L4-5 and L3-4, there are no data on the viability of facet replacement at the lumbosacral joint. The anatomy of posterior elements and the resulting kinematics at L5-S1 are distinctly different from those at superior levels, making the task of facet replacement at the lumbosacral level challenging. This study evaluated the kinematics of facet replacement at L5-S1.
Six human cadaveric lumbar spines (L1-S1, 46.7 ± 13.0 years) were tested in the following sequence: (1) intact (L1-S1), (2) complete laminectomy and bilateral facetectomy at L5-S1, and (3) implantation of TFAS-LS (Lumbosacral Total Facet Arthroplasty System, Archus Orthopedics, Redmond, Washington) at L5-S1 using pedicle screws. Specimens were tested in flexion (8Nm), extension (6Nm), lateral bending (LB, ± 6Nm), and axial rotation (AR, ± 5Nm). The level of significance was α = .017 after Bonferroni correction for three comparisons: (1) intact vs. destabilized, (2) destabilized vs. reconstructed, and (3) intact vs. reconstructed.
Laminectomy-facetectomy at L5-S1 increased the L5-S1 angular range of motion (ROM) in all directions. Flexion-extension (F-E) ROM increased from 15.3 ± 2.9 to 18.7 ± 3.5 degrees (P < .017), LB from 8.2 ± 1.8 to 9.3 ± 1.6 degrees (P < .017), and AR from 3.7 ± 2.0 to 5.9 ± 1.8 degrees (P < .017). The facet arthroplasty system decreased ROM compared to the laminectomy-facetectomy condition in all tested directions (P < .017). The facet arthroplasty system restored the L5-S1 ROM to its intact levels in LB and AR (P > .017). F-E ROM after the facet arthroplasty system implantation was smaller than the intact value (10.1 ± 2.2 vs. 15.3 ± 2.9 degrees, P < .017). The load-displacement curves after the facet arthroplasty system implantation at L5-S1 were sigmoidal, and quality of motion measures were similar to intact, demonstrating graded resistance to angular motion in F-E, LB and AR.
The facet arthroplasty system was able to restore stability to the lumbosacral segment after complete laminectomy and bilateral facetectomy, while also allowing near-normal kinematics in all planes. While F-E ROM after the facet arthroplasty system implantation was smaller than the intact value, it was within the physiologic norms for L5-S1. These results are consistent with previous studies of facet arthroplasty at L3-L4 and L4-L5 and demonstrate that TFAS technology can be adapted to the lumbosacral joint with functionality comparable to its application in superior lumbar levels.