Skip to:

Cement interdigitation and bone-cement interface after augmenting fractured vertebrae: A cadaveric study

Antonio Krüger, MD,1 Ludwig Oberkircher, MD,1 Marita Kratz,1 Gamal Baroud, MD,2 Stephan Becker, MD,3 Steffen Ruchholtz, MD1

1Department of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Marburg, Germany 2Laboratory of Biomechanics, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada 3Institute for Musculoskeletal Analysis, Research and Therapy, Vienna, Austria



The treatment of painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures with transpedicular cement augmentation has grown significantly over the last 20 years. There is still uncertainty about long-term and midterm effects of polymethyl methacrylate in trabecular bone. Preservation of the trabecular structures, as well as interdigitation of the cement with the surrounding bone, therefore has been gaining increasing attention. Interdigitation of cement is likely relevant for biological healing and the biomechanical augmentation process. In this study a cutting and grinding technique was used to evaluate the interdigitation for 4 augmentation techniques.


By use of a standardized protocol, wedge fractures were created in vertebrae taken from a fresh-frozen spine. Thereafter the vertebrae were assigned to 1 of 4 similar groups with regard to the vertebral size and force required to produce the fracture. The 4 groups were randomized to the following augmentation techniques: balloon kyphoplasty, radiofrequency (RF) kyphoplasty, shield kyphoplasty, and vertebral stenting. Histologic analysis was designed to examine the bone structure and interdigitation after the augmentation.


For the void-creating procedures, the distance between bone and cement was 341.4 ± 173.7 μm and 413.6 ± 167.6 μm for vertebral stenting and balloon kyphoplasty, respectively. Specifically, the trabecular bone was condensed around the cement, forming a shield of condensed bone. The procedures without a balloon resulted in shorter distances of 151.2 ± 111.4 μm and 228.1 ± 183.6 μm for RF and shield kyphoplasty, respectively. The difference among the groups was highly significant (P < .0001). The percentage of interdigitation was higher for the procedures that did not use a balloon: 16.7% ± 9.7% for balloon kyphoplasty, 20.5% ± 12.9% for vertebral stenting, 66.45% ± 12.35% for RF kyphoplasty, and 48.61% ± 20.56% for shield kyphoplasty. The difference among the groups was highly significant (P < .00001).


Cavity-creating procedures reduce the cement interdigitation significantly and may accordingly reduce the effectiveness of the augmentation procedures.

Vertebral compression fractures, Vertebroplasty, Kyphoplasty, Interdigitation, Bone-cement interface
Volume 6