Introduction: Polyetheretherkrone PEEK rods are a alternate to titanium and other highly rigid metallic fusion devices for the treatment of lumbar spine pathology. PEEK rods have properties (such as a modulus of elasticity similar to bone) that makes them an appealing choice for lumbar fusion. The question as to their durability has been tested experimentally ex-vivo . The tolerance to vigorous biomechanics testing after they have been part of a fusion construct has not been widely reported
Methods: A patient underwent L3-5 lumbar decompression and fusion in 2009. He developed a robust fusion but required extension of surgery. The PEEK rods were removed and tested. Two PEEK rods were tested for tolerance to flexion, extension and lateral bending after being explanted from a two level fusion construct that required extension. The rods were also inspected under the microscope to ascertain wear characteristics.
Results: The explanted PEEK rods performed similarly in all biomechanics testing to un-used PEEK rods. The Microscopic analysis show some areas of wear in the region of the locking mechanism but no fractures or structural abnormalities grossly.
Conclusions: The explanted PEEK rods seem to be durable and showed no overt signs of fatigue or weakening on structural examination or biomechanical testing.
Patient Care: Product testing is needed to assure implant safety
Learning Objectives: Recognize PEEK rods as a durable alternative to metallic fusion devices.