Introduction Spinal malalignment can greatly impact a patient’s quality of life. Various sagittal parameters are used as realignment goals; however, about 50% of patients end up being under-corrected postoperatively. To improve the correction, prebent rods are available with a radius of curvature corresponding to the patient’s “ideal” sagittal alignment. But no studies have been done on how the radius of curvature changes according to the type of connection between the pedicle screws and rods. The goal of this experimental study was to quantify how much prebent rods flatten based on the method used to connect the screw and rod: top-loading screw vs. dome screw with lateral connector. Methods The experiment was done on a material testing system in axial compression on three constructs consisting of two rods secured with top-loading screws and three other constructs consisting of two rods secured with dome screws and lateral connector. The maximum angle of the construct was measured during loading and after removing the load. The primary outcome measure was the mean angle in each construct at each step. Results The mean angle of the constructs with top-loading screws when subjected to 500 N load was significantly less than in the constructs with dome screws and lateral connector: 18.6° vs. 24.5° respectively (p<0.0003). The mean angle of the constructs with top-loading screws after removing the load was significantly less than in the constructs with dome screws and lateral connector: 25.7° vs. 32.3° respectively, (p<0.0005). Conclusion In vitro, top-loading screws produced significantly greater flattening than dome screws with lateral connector. These findings must be confirmed in vivo. Understanding the behavior of rods as a function of the type of screw connection can be an important factor to minimize the risk of under-correction in the sagittal plane. Level of evidence: III.
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