This study investigated the biomechanical response of porous cages and lumbar spine segments immediately after surgery and after bone fusion, in addition to the long-term effects of various posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) techniques, by using the finite element method. Lumbar L3-L4 models based on three PLIF techniques (a single cage at the center of the intervertebral space, a single cage half-anterior to the intervertebral space, and two cages bilateral to the intervertebral space) with and without bone ingrowth were used to determine the biomechanical response of porous cages and lumbar segments instrumented with porous titanium cages (cage porosity=50%, pore diameter=1 mm). The results indicated that bone fusion enhanced the stability of the lumbar segments with porous cages without any posterior instrumentation and reduced the peak von Mises stress in the cortical bones and porous cages. Two cages placed bilateral to the intervertebral space achieved the highest structural stability in the lumbar segment and lowest von Mises stress in the cages under both bone fusion conditions. Under identical loading (2-N m), the range of motion in the single cage at the center of the intervertebral space with bone fusion decreased by 11% (from 1.18° to 1.05°) during flexion and by 66.5% (from 4.46° to 1.5°) during extension in the single cage half-anterior to the intervertebral space with bone fusion compared with no-fusion models. Thus, two porous titanium cages with 50% porosity can achieve high stability of a lumbar segment with PLIF. If only one cage is available, placing the cage half-anterior to the intervertebral space is recommended for managing degenerated lumbar segments.
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