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1. (WO2012030712) POLYAXIAL PEDICLE SCREW
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POLYAXIAL PEDICLE SCREW

TECHNICAL FIELD

The disclosure is directed to vertebral anchors for use with orthopedic fixation systems. More particularly, the disclosure is directed to polyaxial pedicle screws including structures for securely coupling a bone screw to a housing of the polyaxial pedicle screw.

BACKGROUND

The spinal column of a patient includes a plurality of vertebrae linked to one another by facet joints and an intervertebral disc located between adjacent vertebrae. The facet joints and intervertebral disc allow one vertebra to move relative to an adjacent vertebra, providing the spinal column a range of motion. Diseased, degenerated, damaged, or otherwise impaired facet joints and/or intervertebral discs may cause the patient to experience pain or discomfort and/or loss of motion, thus prompting surgery to alleviate the pain and/or restore motion of the spinal column.

One possible method of treating these conditions is to immobilize a portion of the spine to allow treatment. Traditionally, immobilization has been accomplished by rigid stabilization. For example, in a conventional spinal fusion procedure, a surgeon restores the alignment of the spine or the disc space between vertebrae by installing a rigid fixation rod between pedicle screws secured to adjacent vertebrae. Bone graft is placed between the vertebrae, and the fixation rod cooperates with the screws to immobilize the two vertebrae relative to each other so that the bone graft may fuse with the vertebrae.

Dynamic stabilization has also been used in spinal treatment procedures. Dynamic stabilization does not result in complete immobilization, but instead permits a degree of mobility of the spine while also providing sufficient support and stabilization to effect treatment. One example of a dynamic stabilization system is the Dynesys® system available from Zimmer Spine, Inc. of Minneapolis, MN. Such dynamic stabilization systems typically include a flexible member positioned between pedicle screws installed in adjacent vertebrae of the spine. A flexible cord can be threaded through the bore in the flexible member and secured to the pedicle screws while cooperating with the flexible member to permit mobility of the spine.

Thus, it may be desirable to provide alternative vertebral anchors which may be used in spinal stabilization systems which are configured to secure elongate members or other structures to one or more vertebrae of a spinal segment of a spinal column in a desired configuration in treating various spinal disorders.

Accordingly, it is desirable to develop a pedicle screw that provides polyaxial rotation which is easily assembled and configured to be secured in a desired angular orientation when secured to an elongated member of a vertebral stabilization system.

SUMMARY

The disclosure is directed to several alternative designs, materials and methods of assembling vertebral anchor structures and assemblies.

Accordingly, one illustrative embodiment is a polyaxial bone anchor. The polyaxial bone anchor includes a housing having an upper end, a lower end and a bore extending through the housing from the upper end to the lower end. The bore opens out at the lower end at a lower opening. The housing also includes a channel configured for receiving an elongate stabilization member therethrough which extends from a first side surface of the housing to a second side surface of the housing opposite the first side surface transverse to the bore. The bone anchor also includes a retainer positioned into the bore of the housing which has an outermost diameter greater than a diameter of the lower opening. The retainer includes a plurality of alternating tabs and slots circumferentially arranged to define a cavity therein. Also included is a bone screw including a head portion and a shank extending from the head portion. The head portion of the bone screw is positionable in the cavity of the retainer with the shank extending from the lower end of the housing by deflecting the tabs radially outward to enlarge a lower opening of the retainer into the cavity from a diameter less than a diameter of the head portion to a diameter greater than or equal to the diameter of the head portion. The bone anchor also includes means for applying a force to move the retainer toward the lower end of the housing while the retainer is positioned in the bore.

Another illustrative embodiment is a polyaxial bone anchor. The bone anchor includes a housing having an upper end, a lower end and a bore extending through the housing from the upper end to the lower end. The bore opens out at the lower end at a lower opening. The housing also includes a channel configured for receiving an elongate stabilization member therethrough which extends from a first side surface of the housing to a second side surface of the housing opposite the first side surface transverse to the bore. The bone anchor also includes a retainer positionable in the bore of the housing. The retainer is movable in the bore of the housing between a first position and a second position. The retainer is closer to the lower end of the housing in the first position and closer to the upper end of the housing in the second position. Additionally, the bone anchor includes a bone screw including a head portion and a shank extending from the head portion. The head portion of the bone screw is positionable in a cavity of the retainer with the shank extending from the lower end of the housing. The head portion of the bone screw is insertable into the cavity of the retainer from the lower end of the housing when the retainer is in the second position, but is not removable from the cavity of the retainer when the retainer is in the first position.

Another illustrative embodiment is a polyaxial bone anchor including a housing, a bone screw, a spacer, a collar and a resilient spring means. The housing has an upper end, a lower end and a bore extending through the housing from the upper end to the lower end. A lower portion of the housing includes a plurality of deflectable tabs arranged around a perimeter of the housing. The housing includes a channel configured for receiving an elongate stabilization member therethrough which extends from a first side surface of the housing to a second side surface of the housing opposite the first side surface transverse to the bore. The spacer is positionable in the bore of the housing and movable in the bore of the housing between a first position and a second position. The spacer is closer to the lower end of the housing in the first position and closer to the upper end of the housing in the second position. The bone screw includes a head portion and a shank extending from the head portion. The head portion of the bone screw is positionable in a cavity of the spacer with the shank extending from the lower end of the housing. The collar is positionable circumferentially exterior of the plurality of deflectable tabs to inhibit outward radial deflection of the plurality of tabs. The resilient spring means biases the spacer toward the first position into engagement with the head portion of the bone screw. The head portion of the bone screw is insertable into the bore of the housing from the lower end of the housing by deflecting the plurality of tabs radially outward, but is not removable from the housing when the collar is positioned circumferentially exterior of the plurality of deflectable tabs.

Yet another illustrative embodiment is a method of assembling a polyaxial bone anchor. A housing is provided having an upper end, a lower end and a bore extending through the housing from the upper end to the lower end. The bore opens out at the lower end at a lower opening. The housing also includes a channel configured for receiving an elongate stabilization member therethrough which extends from a first side surface of the housing to a second side surface of the housing opposite the first side surface transverse to the bore. A retainer is inserted into the bore of the housing from the lower end of the housing by passing the retainer through the lower opening. The retainer has an outermost diameter greater than a diameter of the lower opening. The retainer includes a plurality of alternating tabs and slots formed therein providing the retainer with sufficient flexibility to be urged through the lower opening from the lower end of the housing by radially compressing the retainer. A head portion of a bone screw is inserted into a cavity of the retainer from the lower end of the housing by moving the retainer toward the upper end of the housing allowing the plurality of tabs to splay radially outward to accommodate passage of the head portion of the bone screw into the cavity of the retainer. The retainer, with the head portion of the bone screw positioned in the cavity of the retainer, is urged back toward the lower end of the housing to retain the head portion of the bone screw in the cavity of the retainer. The retainer is biased toward the lower end of the housing by a biasing spring means.

The above summary of some example embodiments is not intended to describe each disclosed embodiment or every implementation of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of components of an exemplary vertebral anchor;

FIG. 1A is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 1 with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. IB is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 1 while coupling the housing to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of components of another exemplary vertebral anchor;

FIG. 2A is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 2 with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 2, transverse to the cross-sectional view of FIG. 2A, with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 2C is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 2 while coupling the housing to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of components of another exemplary vertebral anchor;

FIG. 3A is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 3 with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 3 while coupling the housing to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of components of another exemplary vertebral anchor;

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 4 with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 4B is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 4 while coupling the housing to the head portion of the bone screw;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of components of yet another exemplary vertebral anchor;

FIG. 5A is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 5 with the housing coupled to the head portion of the bone screw; and

FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view of the vertebral anchor of FIG. 5 while coupling the housing to the head portion of the bone screw.

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit aspects of the invention to the particular embodiments described. On the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

For the following defined terms, these definitions shall be applied, unless a different definition is given in the claims or elsewhere in this specification.

All numeric values are herein assumed to be modified by the term "about", whether or not explicitly indicated. The term "about" generally refers to a range of numbers that one of skill in the art would consider equivalent to the recited value (i.e., having the same function or result). In many instances, the term "about" may be indicative as including numbers that are rounded to the nearest significant figure.

The recitation of numerical ranges by endpoints includes all numbers within that range (e.g., 1 to 5 includes 1, 1.5, 2, 2.75, 3, 3.80, 4, and 5).

Although some suitable dimensions, ranges and/or values pertaining to various components, features and/or specifications are disclosed, one of skill in the art, incited by the present disclosure, would understand desired dimensions, ranges and/or values may deviate from those expressly disclosed.

As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms "a", "an", and "the" include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. As used in this specification and the appended claims, the term "or" is generally employed in its sense including "and/or" unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

The following detailed description should be read with reference to the drawings in which similar elements in different drawings are numbered the same. The detailed description and the drawings, which are not necessarily to scale, depict illustrative embodiments and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. The illustrative embodiments depicted are intended only as exemplary. Selected features of any illustrative embodiment may be incorporated into an additional embodiment unless clearly stated to the contrary.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is shown a first exemplary embodiment of a vertebral anchor 10, shown as a polyaxial pedicle screw. The vertebral anchor 10 may include several components. For example, the vertebral anchor 10 may include a housing 12 pivotably coupled to a bone screw 14. The bone screw 14 may include a shaft portion 16, which may in some instances be threaded, extending from a head portion 18, which may in some instances be spherically shaped. The shaft 16 may be configured to be installed into a bony region of a vertebra of the spinal column. For example, the shaft 16 may be installed into a pedicle of a vertebra, or other region of a vertebra. The bone screw 14 may be pivotable relative to the housing 12 such that the longitudinal axis of the bone screw 14 is positioned at one of multiple angular orientations relative to the longitudinal axis of the housing 12.

The housing 12 may include a channel 20, such as a U-shaped channel extending from one side of the housing 12 to an opposite second side of the housing 12. The channel 20 may be defined between opposing first and second legs 22, 24 of the housing 12. The housing 12 may also include a bore 26 extending through the housing 12 along a longitudinal axis from the upper end 28 to the lower end 30 of the housing 12 which intersects the channel 20.

The housing 12 of the vertebral anchor 10 may be configured to receive an elongate member 40 of a vertebral stabilization system, such as a rigid or flexible fixation element, including a spinal rod or flexible cord, therein. For example, the channel 20 may be open to the upper end 28 of the housing 12 such that the elongate member 40 may be positioned in the channel 20 in a top-loaded fashion in which the elongate member 40 is moved into the channel 20 of the housing 12 in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the channel 20 of the housing 12.

The vertebral anchor 10 may also include a securing element, such as a threaded fastener 34 (e.g., a set screw, cap) configured to rotatably engage the housing 12 to secure a portion of the elongate member 40 in the channel 20. For example, the threaded fastener 34 may include threads which mate with a threaded portion 32 formed in the legs 22, 24 of the housing 12. In other embodiments, the fastener 34 may include one or more flanges, cam surfaces, or other engagement features that engage with one or more channels, grooves, surfaces, or other engagement features of the housing 12 through rotation of the fastener 34. The fastener 34 may be rotatably engaged between the spaced apart legs 22, 24 of the housing 12 which define the channel 20 therebetween.

The vertebral anchor 10 may also include one or more components for coupling the housing 12 to the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. For instance, the vertebral anchor 10 may include a retainer 42 positionable in the bore 26 of the housing 12 which includes a cavity 44 for receiving the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 therein. In some instances, the cavity 44 may be a spherically concave cavity complementing the spherical shape of the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. The retainer 42 may be formed of a resilient material, such as a pliable polymeric material or a malleable metallic material, providing the retainer 42 a desired amount of flexibility. The retainer 42 may also include a plurality of alternating tabs 46 and slots 48 spaced around a periphery of the retainer 42 enhancing the flexibility of the retainer 42. For example, a radially inward force may be exerted on the tabs 46 to deflect the tabs 46 radially inward to radially compress the retainer 42, whereas a radially outward force may be exerted on the tabs 46 to deflect or splay the tabs 46 radially outward to radially enlarge the lower opening into the cavity 44 of the retainer 42.

The retainer 42 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes a first subset of slots 48a opening out to the upper end of the retainer 42 and a second subset of slots 48b opening out to the lower end of the retainer 42. The slots 48a may alternate with the slots 48b around the circumference of the retainer 42.

The vertebral anchor 10 may also include a spacer 50 extending from the retainer 42 toward the upper end 28 of the housing 12. The spacer 50 may be axially movable relative to the retainer 42. The spacer 50 may include a first portion extending from the retainer 42 which is configured to engage an elongate stabilization member 40 disposed in the channel 20 of the housing 12 and a second portion extending into a bore of the retainer 42 which is configured to engage the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. The spacer 50 may include an enlarged annular portion positioned in the bore of the retainer 42 which interlocks with a radially inward extending annular lip of the retainer 42.

The vertebral anchor 10 may further include a resilient spring means biasing the retainer 42 toward the lower end 30 of the housing 12. As shown in FIG. 1, the resilient spring means may be a wave washer 52, however, in other instances the resilient spring means may be a helical spring, elastomeric member, an integral portion of the retainer 42, or another structure configured to urge the retainer 42 toward the lower end 30 of the housing 12.

The arrangement of components for coupling the housing 12 to the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 is further illustrated in FIG. 1A. As shown in FIG. 1A, the retainer 42 may be positioned in an enlarged portion 36 of the bore 26, surrounding the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. The spacer 50 may be positioned between the retainer 42 and the elongate member 40, with a portion of the spacer 50 extending into the bore of the retainer 42 and directly engaging the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. The wave washer 52 may be positioned in the bore 26 of the housing 12 and compressed between an annular rim of the housing 12 facing the lower end 30 of the housing 12 and an annular surface of the retainer 42 and/or spacer 50 facing the upper end 28 of the housing 12.

The retainer 42 may be movable in the bore 26 of the housing 12 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 26 between a first position in which the retainer 42 is closer to the lower end 30 of the housing 12 and a second position in which the retainer 42 is closer to the upper end 28 of the housing 12. The wave washer 52, or other resilient biasing means, may bias the retainer 42 toward the first position until a sufficient force is applied to the retainer 42 to overcome the biasing force of the wave washer 52 and moves the retainer 42 to the second position.

The retainer 42 may have an outermost diameter which is greater than the diameter of the lower opening 38 of the bore 26 extending through the housing 12, yet the outermost diameter of the retainer 42 may be less than an enlarged portion 36 of the bore 26 in which the retainer 42 is positioned, providing an annular space 54 between the outer circumferential surface of the retainer 42 and the circumferential surface of the bore 26. In some instances, the housing 12 may include an annular rim 56 defining the lower opening 38, in which the diameter of the lower opening 38 at the annular rim 56 is less than a diameter of the enlarged portion 36 of the bore 26 of the housing 12 toward the upper end 28 of the housing 12 from the annular rim 56. When in the first position, the wave washer 52 may push the retainer 42 against the annular rim 56, preventing the retainer 42 from radially expanding.

During assembly of the vertebral anchor 10, the retainer 42, as well as the wave washer 52 and the spacer 50 may be inserted into the lower opening 38 of the housing 12. For example, the plurality of alternating tabs 46 and slots 48 formed around the circumference of the retainer 42 may provide the retainer 42 with sufficient flexibility to be urged through the lower opening 38 from the lower end 30 of the housing 12 by radially compressing the retainer 42.

With the retainer 42, resilient spring means (e.g., the wave washer 52) and other components positioned in the bore 26 of the housing 12, the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 may be inserted into the cavity 44 of the retainer 42 through the lower opening 38 from the lower end 30 in a bottom loaded manner. The diameter of the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 may be less than the diameter of the lower opening 38 at the annular rim 56 to allow the head portion 18 to pass therethrough. As shown in FIG. IB, the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14, or another structure, may apply a force against the retainer 42 opposing and overcoming the biasing force of the wave washer 52 which urges the retainer 42 to the second position in which the retainer 42 is moved toward the upper end 28 of the housing 12 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 26. Now positioned in an enlarged diameter portion 36 of the bore 26 and radially unconstrained by the interior surface of the bore 26 and/or the annular rim 56 at the lower opening 38 of the housing 12, the flexibility of the retainer 42 allows the retainer 42 to be radially expanded. For example, the plurality of tabs 46 of the retainer 42 may be deflected radially outward in order to allow the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 to pass into the cavity 44 of the retainer 42. The presence of the annular space 54 allows the retainer 42 to radially expand to accommodate insertion of the head portion 18 into the cavity 44.

Once the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 is positioned in the cavity 44, the applied force to the retainer 42 may be removed, allowing the biasing force of the wave washer 52 or other biasing means to move the retainer 42 back to the first position toward the lower end 30 of the housing 12 and into engagement with the reduced diameter annular portion of the housing 12 to prevent further radial expansion or splaying of the retainer 42. In some instances, the retainer 42 may include a lower beveled surface which contacts the annular rim 56 of the housing 12 to urge the tabs 46 of the retainer 42 radially inward and/or prevent radial splaying to secure the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14 in the cavity 44 of the retainer 42.

When an elongate member 40 is secured in the channel 20 of the housing 12, a clamping force may be exerted against the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14. However, because the lower opening of the retainer 42 when at the first position has a diameter less than the diameter of the head portion 18 of the bone screw 14, the head portion 18 is prevented from being removed from the cavity 44 of the retainer 42 since the annular rim 56 of the housing 12 resists radial expansion of the lower opening of the retainer 42 when pressed thereagainst.

Another exemplary embodiment of a vertebral anchor 110, shown as a polyaxial pedicle screw, is illustrated in FIG. 2. The vertebral anchor 1 10 may include several components. For example, the vertebral anchor 110 may include a housing 112 pivotably coupled to a bone screw 1 14. The bone screw 114 may include a shaft portion 116, which may in some instances be threaded, extending from a head portion 118, which may in some instances be spherically shaped. The shaft 1 16 may be configured to be installed into a bony region of a vertebra of the spinal column. For example, the shaft 1 16 may be installed into a pedicle of a vertebra, or other region of a vertebra. The bone screw 114 may be pivotable relative to the housing 1 12 such that the longitudinal axis of the bone screw 114 is positioned at one of multiple angular orientations relative to the longitudinal axis of the housing 112.

The housing 1 12 may include a channel 120, such as a U-shaped channel extending from one side of the housing 112 to an opposite second side of the housing 1 12. The channel 120 may be defined between opposing first and second legs 122, 124 of the housing 112. The housing 1 12 may also include a bore 126 extending through the housing 112 along a longitudinal axis from the upper end 128 to the lower end 130 of the housing 1 12 which intersects the channel 120.

The housing 112 of the vertebral anchor 10 may be configured to receive an elongate member 140 of a vertebral stabilization system, such as a rigid or flexible fixation element, including a spinal rod or flexible cord, therein. For example, the channel 120 may be open to the upper end 128 of the housing 1 12 such that the elongate member 140 may be positioned in the channel 120 in a top-loaded fashion in which the elongate member 140 is moved into the channel 120 of the housing 112 in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the channel 120 of the housing 112.

The vertebral anchor 1 10 may also include a securing element, such as a threaded fastener 134 (e.g., a set screw, cap) configured to rotatably engage the housing 112 to secure a portion of the elongate member 140 in the channel 120. For example, the threaded fastener 134 may include threads which mate with a threaded portion 132 formed in the legs 122, 124 of the housing 1 12. In other embodiments, the fastener 134 may include one or more flanges, cam surfaces, or other engagement features that engage with one or more channels, grooves, surfaces, or other engagement features of the housing 1 12 through rotation of the fastener 134. The fastener 134 may be rotatably engaged between the spaced apart legs 122, 124 of the housing 112 which define the channel 120 therebetween.

The vertebral anchor 1 10 may also include one or more components for coupling the housing 112 to the head portion 118 of the bone screw 1 14. For instance, the vertebral anchor 1 10 may include a retainer 142 positionable in the bore 126 of the housing 1 12 which includes a cavity 144 for receiving the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 114 therein. In some instances, the cavity 144 may be a spherically concave cavity complementing the spherical shape of the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14. The retainer 142 may be formed of a resilient material, such as a pliable polymeric material or a malleable metallic material, providing the retainer 142 a desired amount of flexibility. A lower portion of the retainer 142 may also include a plurality of alternating tabs 146 and slots 148 spaced around a periphery of the lower portion of the retainer 142 enhancing the flexibility of the lower portion of the retainer 142. For example, a radially inward force may be exerted on the tabs 146 to deflect the tabs 146 radially inward to radially compress the retainer 142, whereas a radially outward force may be exerted on the tabs 146 to deflect or splay the tabs 146 radially outward to radially enlarge the lower opening into the cavity 144 of the retainer 142.

The upper portion of the retainer 142 illustrated in FIG. 2 may further include first and second legs 158, 160 defining a channel 162 therebetween aligned with the channel 120 of the housing 112 for receiving an elongate stabilization member 140 therethrough.

The vertebral anchor 110 may also include a spacer 150 extending from the retainer 142 toward the upper end 128 of the housing 112. The spacer 150 may be axially movable relative to the retainer 142. The spacer 150 may include a first portion extending from the retainer 142 which is configured to engage an elongate stabilization member 140 disposed in the channel 120 of the housing 1 12 and a second portion extending into a bore of the retainer 142 which is configured to engage the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 114. In some instances, the spacer 150 may include structure, such as an enlarged annular portion which interlocks with structure of the retainer 142, such as an annular lip of the retainer 142.

In some instances, the vertebral anchor 1 10 may further include a resilient spring means (not shown) biasing the retainer 142 toward the lower end 130 of the housing 1 12. In some instances, the resilient spring means may be a wave washer, a helical spring, elastomeric member, an integral portion of the retainer 142, or another structure configured to urge the retainer 142 toward the lower end 130 of the housing 1 12.

The arrangement of components for coupling the housing 1 12 to the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 114 is further illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B. As shown, the lower portion of the retainer 142 may be positioned in an enlarged portion 136 of the bore 126, surrounding the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14. The legs 158, 160 of the retainer 142 may be aligned with the legs 122, 124 of the housing 112 such that the channel 162 defined between the legs 158, 160 is aligned with the channel 120 defined between the legs 122, 124 of the housing 1 12. The spacer 150

may be positioned between the retainer 142 and the elongate member 140, with a portion of the spacer 150 extending into the bore of the retainer 142 and directly engaging the head portion 118 of the bone screw 114.

The retainer 142 may be movable in the bore 126 of the housing 112 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 126 between a first position in which the retainer 142 is closer to the lower end 130 of the housing 1 12 and a second position in which the retainer 142 is closer to the upper end 128 of the housing 1 12. In some instances, a resilient biasing means, such as a wave washer, a helical spring, elastomeric member, an integral portion of the retainer 142, or another structure, may bias the retainer 142 toward the first position until a sufficient force is applied to the retainer 142 to overcome the biasing force of the wave washer 152 and moves the retainer 142 to the second position.

The retainer 142 may have an outermost diameter which is greater than the diameter of the lower opening 138 of the bore 126 extending through the housing 112, yet the outermost diameter of the retainer 142 may be less than an enlarged portion 136 of the bore 126 in which the retainer 142 is positioned, providing an annular space 154 between the outer circumferential surface of the retainer 142 and the circumferential surface of the bore 126. In some instances, the housing 112 may include an annular rim 156 defining the lower opening 138, in which the diameter of the lower opening 138 at the annular rim 156 is less than a diameter of the enlarged portion 136 of the bore 126 of the housing 1 12 toward the upper end 128 of the housing 112 from the annular rim 156. When in the first position, a resilient biasing member may push the retainer 142 against the annular rim 156, preventing the retainer 142 from radially expanding. Alternatively, a clamping force exerted against the elongate member 140 by the fastener 134 may exert a force through the spacer 150 to the retainer 142, push the retainer 142 against the annular rim 156.

During assembly of the vertebral anchor 110, the retainer 142 and the spacer 150 may be inserted into the bore 126 of the housing 112 through the lower opening 138 of the housing 112 or from the upper end 128 of the housing 1 12. For example, the plurality of alternating tabs 146 and slots 148 formed around the circumference of the retainer 142 may provide the retainer 142 with sufficient flexibility to be radially compressed when being inserted into the bore 126.

With the retainer 142, spacer 150, and resilient spring means if present, positioned in the bore 126 of the housing 1 12, the head portion 118 of the bone screw 1 14 may be inserted into the cavity 144 of the retainer 142 through the lower opening 138 from the lower end 130 in a bottom loaded manner. The diameter of the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14 may be less than the diameter of the lower opening 138 at the annular rim 156 to allow the head portion 1 18 to pass therethrough. As shown in FIG. 2C, the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14, or another structure, may apply a force against the retainer 142 opposing and overcoming any biasing force, and thus urging the retainer 142 to the second position in which the retainer 142 is moved toward the upper end 128 of the housing 112 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 126. Now positioned in an enlarged diameter portion 136 of the bore 126 and radially unconstrained by the interior surface of the bore 126 and/or the annular rim 156 at the lower opening 138 of the housing 1 12, the flexibility of the retainer 142 allows the lower portion of the retainer 142 to be radially expanded. For example, the plurality of tabs 146 of the retainer 142 may be deflected radially outward in order to allow the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 114 to pass into the cavity 144 of the retainer 142. The presence of the annular space 154 allows the retainer 142 to radially expand to accommodate insertion of the head portion 118 into the cavity 144.

Once the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14 is positioned in the cavity 144, the applied force to the retainer 142 may be removed, allowing the retainer 142 to move back to the first position toward the lower end 130 of the housing 112 and into engagement with the reduced diameter annular portion of the housing 112 to prevent further radial expansion or splaying of the lower portion of the retainer 142. In some instances, the retainer 142 may include a lower beveled surface which contacts the annular rim 156 of the housing 1 12 to urge the tabs 146 of the retainer 142 radially inward and/or prevent radial splaying to secure the head portion 118 of the bone screw 114 in the cavity 144 of the retainer 142.

When an elongate member 140 is secured in the channel 120 of the housing 112, a clamping force may be exerted against the head portion 1 18 of the bone screw 1 14. However, because the lower opening of the retainer 142 when at the first position has a diameter less than the diameter of the head portion 118 of the bone screw 114, the head portion 1 18 is prevented from being removed from the cavity 144 of the retainer 142 since the annular rim 156 of the housing 112 resists radial expansion of the lower opening of the retainer 142 when pressed thereagainst.

Another exemplary embodiment of a vertebral anchor 210, shown as a polyaxial pedicle screw, is illustrated in FIG. 3. The vertebral anchor 210 may

include several components. For example, the vertebral anchor 210 may include a housing 212 pivotably coupled to a bone screw 214. The bone screw 214 may include a shaft portion 216, which may in some instances be threaded, extending from a head portion 218, which may in some instances be spherically shaped. The shaft 216 may be configured to be installed into a bony region of a vertebra of the spinal column. For example, the shaft 216 may be installed into a pedicle of a vertebra, or other region of a vertebra. The bone screw 214 may be pivotable relative to the housing 212 such that the longitudinal axis of the bone screw 214 is positioned at one of multiple angular orientations relative to the longitudinal axis of the housing 212.

The housing 212 may include a channel 220, such as a U-shaped channel extending from one side of the housing 212 to an opposite second side of the housing 212. The channel 220 may be defined between opposing first and second legs 222, 224 of the housing 212. The housing 212 may also include a bore 226 extending through the housing 212 along a longitudinal axis from the upper end 228 to the lower end 230 of the housing 212 which intersects the channel 220.

The housing 212 of the vertebral anchor 210 may be configured to receive an elongate member 240 of a vertebral stabilization system, such as a rigid or flexible fixation element, including a spinal rod or flexible cord, therein. For example, the channel 220 may be open to the upper end 228 of the housing 212 such that the elongate member 240 may be positioned in the channel 220 in a top-loaded fashion in which the elongate member 240 is moved into the channel 220 of the housing 212 in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the channel 220 of the housing 212.

The vertebral anchor 210 may also include a securing element, such as a threaded fastener (not shown) configured to rotatably engage the housing 212 to secure a portion of the elongate member 240 in the channel 220. For example, the threaded fastener may include threads which mate with a threaded portion 232 formed in the legs 222, 224 of the housing 212. In other embodiments, the fastener may include one or more flanges, cam surfaces, or other engagement features that engage with one or more channels, grooves, surfaces, or other engagement features of the housing 212 through rotation of the fastener. The fastener may be rotatably engaged between the spaced apart legs 222, 224 of the housing 212 which define the channel 220 therebetween.

The vertebral anchor 210 may also include one or more components for coupling the housing 212 to the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214. For instance, the vertebral anchor 210 may include a retainer 242 positionable in the bore 226 of the housing 212 which includes a cavity 244 for receiving the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 therein. In some instances, the cavity 244 may be a spherically concave cavity complementing the spherical shape of the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214. The retainer 242 may be formed of a resilient material, such as a pliable polymeric material or a malleable metallic material, providing the retainer 242 a desired amount of flexibility. The retainer 242 may also include a plurality of alternating tabs 246 and slots 248 spaced around a periphery of the retainer 242 enhancing the flexibility of the retainer 242. For example, a radially inward force may be exerted on the tabs 246 to deflect the tabs 246 radially inward to radially compress the retainer 242, whereas a radially outward force may be exerted on the tabs 246 to deflect or splay the tabs 246 radially outward to radially enlarge the lower opening into the cavity 244 of the retainer 242.

The vertebral anchor 210 may further include a resilient spring means biasing the retainer 242 toward the lower end 230 of the housing 212. As shown in FIG. 3, the resilient spring means may be a wave washer 252, however, in other instances the resilient spring means may be a helical spring, elastomeric member, an integral portion of the retainer 242, or another structure configured to urge the retainer 242 toward the lower end 230 of the housing 212.

The arrangement of components for coupling the housing 212 to the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 is further illustrated in FIG. 3 A. As shown in FIG. 3A, the retainer 242 may be positioned in an enlarged portion 236 of the bore 226, surrounding the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214. The wave washer 252 may be positioned in the bore 226 of the housing 212 and compressed between an annular rim of the housing 212 facing the lower end 230 of the housing 212 and an annular surface of the retainer 242 facing the upper end 228 of the housing 212. An upper portion of the retainer 242 may extend through the wave washer 252 to directly engage the elongate member 240.

The retainer 242 may be movable in the bore 226 of the housing 212 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 226 between a first position in which the retainer 242 is closer to the lower end 230 of the housing 212 and a second position in which the retainer 242 is closer to the upper end 228 of the housing 212. The wave washer 252, or other resilient biasing means, may bias the retainer 242 toward the first position until a sufficient force is applied to the retainer 242 to overcome the biasing force of the wave washer 252 and moves the retainer 242 to the second position.

The retainer 242 may have an outermost diameter which is greater than the diameter of the lower opening 238 of the bore 226 extending through the housing 212, yet the outermost diameter of the retainer 242 may be less than an enlarged portion 236 of the bore 226 in which the retainer 242 is positioned, providing an annular space 254 between the outer circumferential surface of the retainer 242 and the circumferential surface of the bore 226. In some instances, the housing 212 may include an annular rim 256 defining the lower opening 238, in which the diameter of the lower opening 238 at the annular rim 256 is less than a diameter of the enlarged portion 236 of the bore 226 of the housing 212 toward the upper end 228 of the housing 212 from the annular rim 256. When in the first position, the wave washer 252 may push the retainer 242 against the annular rim 256, preventing the retainer 242 from radially expanding.

During assembly of the vertebral anchor 210, the retainer 242, as well as the wave washer 252, may be inserted into the lower opening 238 of the housing 212. For example, the plurality of alternating tabs 246 and slots 248 formed around the circumference of the retainer 242 may provide the retainer 242 with sufficient flexibility to be urged through the lower opening 238 from the lower end 230 of the housing 212 by radially compressing the retainer 242.

With the retainer 242, resilient spring means (e.g., the wave washer 252) and any other components positioned in the bore 226 of the housing 212, the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 may be inserted into the cavity 244 of the retainer 242 through the lower opening 238 from the lower end 230 in a bottom loaded manner. The diameter of the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 may be less than the diameter of the lower opening 238 at the annular rim 256 to allow the head portion 218 to pass therethrough. As shown in FIG. 3B, the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214, or another structure, may apply a force against the retainer 242 opposing and overcoming the biasing force of the wave washer 252 which urges the retainer 242 to the second position in which the retainer 242 is moved toward the upper end 228 of the housing 212 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 226. Now positioned in an enlarged diameter portion 236 of the bore 226 and radially unconstrained by the interior surface of the bore 226 and/or the annular rim 256 at the lower opening 238 of the housing 212, the flexibility of the retainer 242 allows the retainer 242 to be radially expanded. For example, the plurality of tabs 246 of the retainer 242 may be deflected radially outward in order to allow the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 to pass into the cavity 244 of the retainer 242. The presence of the annular space 254 allows the retainer 242 to radially expand to accommodate insertion of the head portion 218 into the cavity 244.

Once the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 is positioned in the cavity 244, the applied force to the retainer 242 may be removed, allowing the biasing force of the wave washer 252 or other biasing means to move the retainer 242 back to the first position toward the lower end 230 of the housing 212 and into engagement with the reduced diameter annular portion of the housing 212 to prevent further radial expansion or splaying of the retainer 242. In some instances, the retainer 242 may include a lower beveled surface which contacts the annular rim 256 of the housing 212 to urge the tabs 246 of the retainer 242 radially inward and/or prevent radial splaying to secure the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214 in the cavity 244 of the retainer 242.

When an elongate member 240 is secured in the channel 220 of the housing 212, a clamping force may be exerted against the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214. However, because the lower opening of the retainer 242 when at the first position has a diameter less than the diameter of the head portion 218 of the bone screw 214, the head portion 218 is prevented from being removed from the cavity 244 of the retainer 242 since the annular rim 256 of the housing 212 resists radial expansion of the lower opening of the retainer 242 when pressed thereagainst.

Another exemplary embodiment of a vertebral anchor 310, shown as a polyaxial pedicle screw, is illustrated in FIG. 4. The vertebral anchor 310 may include several components. For example, the vertebral anchor 310 may include a housing 312 pivotably coupled to a bone screw 314. The bone screw 314 may include a shaft portion 316, which may in some instances be threaded, extending from a head portion 318, which may in some instances be spherically shaped. The shaft 316 may be configured to be installed into a bony region of a vertebra of the spinal column. For example, the shaft 316 may be installed into a pedicle of a vertebra, or other region of a vertebra. The bone screw 314 may be pivotable relative to the housing 312 such that the longitudinal axis of the bone screw 314 is positioned at one of multiple angular orientations relative to the longitudinal axis of the housing 312.

The housing 312 may include a channel 320, such as a U-shaped channel extending from one side of the housing 312 to an opposite second side of the housing 312. The channel 320 may be defined between opposing first and second legs 322, 324 of the housing 312. The housing 312 may also include a bore 326 extending through the housing 312 along a longitudinal axis from the upper end 328 to the lower end 330 of the housing 312 which intersects the channel 320.

The housing 312 of the vertebral anchor 310 may be configured to receive an elongate member 340 of a vertebral stabilization system, such as a rigid or flexible fixation element, including a spinal rod or flexible cord, therein. For example, the channel 320 may be open to the upper end 328 of the housing 312 such that the elongate member 340 may be positioned in the channel 320 in a top-loaded fashion in which the elongate member 340 is moved into the channel 320 of the housing 312 in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the channel 320 of the housing 312.

The vertebral anchor 310 may also include a securing element, such as a threaded fastener (not shown) configured to rotatably engage the housing 312 to secure a portion of the elongate member 340 in the channel 320. For example, the threaded fastener may include threads which mate with a threaded portion 332 formed in the legs 322, 324 of the housing 312. In other embodiments, the fastener may include one or more flanges, cam surfaces, or other engagement features that engage with one or more channels, grooves, surfaces, or other engagement features of the housing 312 through rotation of the fastener. The fastener may be rotatably engaged between the spaced apart legs 322, 324 of the housing 312 which define the channel 320 therebetween.

The vertebral anchor 310 may also include one or more components for coupling the housing 312 to the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314. For instance, the vertebral anchor 310 may include a retainer 342 positionable in the bore 326 of the housing 312 which includes a cavity 344 for receiving the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 therein. In some instances, the cavity 344 may be a spherically concave cavity complementing the spherical shape of the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314. The retainer 342 may be formed of a resilient material, such as a pliable polymeric material or a malleable metallic material, providing the retainer 342 a desired amount of flexibility. The retainer 342 may also include a plurality of alternating tabs 346 and slots 348 spaced around a periphery of the retainer 342

enhancing the flexibility of the retainer 342. For example, a radially inward force may be exerted on the tabs 346 to deflect the tabs 346 radially inward to radially compress the retainer 342, whereas a radially outward force may be exerted on the tabs 346 to deflect or splay the tabs 346 radially outward to radially enlarge the lower opening into the cavity 344 of the retainer 342.

The vertebral anchor 310 may further include a resilient spring means biasing the retainer 342 toward the lower end 330 of the housing 312. As shown in FIG. 4, the resilient spring means may an integral portion of the retainer 342. For instance, the retainer 342 may be a portion of the retainer 342 including one or more circumferential or helical slots 352 formed therein. Circumferential slots may extend less than 360° around the circumference, whereas a helical slot may extend less than, greater than or equal to 360° around the retainer 342. The slots 352 may be interposed between an annular upper portion 350 and the lower portion including the tabs 346 and defining the cavity 344. Thus, the retainer 342 may be a monolithic structure including the annular upper portion 350, the intermediate portion including the slots 352 and the lower portion including the tabs 346. However, in other embodiments, the resilient spring means may be a wave washer, a helical spring, elastomeric member, or another structure configured to urge the retainer 342 toward the lower end 330 of the housing 312.

The circumferential or helical slots 352 formed in the retainer 342 may allow the intermediate portion of the retainer 342 to be resiliently compressed between the annular upper portion 350 and the lower portion of the retainer 342. For example, when an axially compressive force is applied to the retainer 342, the axial length of the retainer 342 may be reduced as the width of the slots 352 is reduced. When the applied compressive force is removed or reduced, the axial length of the retainer 342 may be increased. Thus, the slots 352 formed around the intermediate portion may provide a pseudo-spring.

The arrangement of components for coupling the housing 312 to the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 is further illustrated in FIG. 4A. As shown in FIG. 4A, the retainer 342 may be positioned in an enlarged portion 336 of the bore 326, surrounding the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314. The upper portion 350 of the retainer 342 may directly engage the elongate member 340.

The retainer 342 may be movable in the bore 326 of the housing 312 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 326 between a first position in which the retainer 342 is closer to the lower end 330 of the housing 312 and a second position in which the retainer 342 is closer to the upper end 328 of the housing 312. The resilient nature of the compressed intermediate portion having the slots 352, or other resilient biasing means, may bias the retainer 342 toward the first position until a sufficient force is applied to the retainer 342 to overcome the biasing force of the intermediate portion having the slots 352 and moves the retainer 342 to the second position.

The retainer 342 may have an outermost diameter which is greater than the diameter of the lower opening 338 of the bore 326 extending through the housing 312, yet the outermost diameter of the retainer 342 may be less than an enlarged portion 336 of the bore 326 in which the retainer 342 is positioned, providing an annular space 354 between the outer circumferential surface of the retainer 342 and the circumferential surface of the bore 326. In some instances, the housing 312 may include an annular rim 356 defining the lower opening 338, in which the diameter of the lower opening 338 at the annular rim 356 is less than a diameter of the enlarged portion 336 of the bore 326 of the housing 312 toward the upper end 328 of the housing 312 from the annular rim 356. When in the first position, the forces generated by the compressed intermediate portion having the slots 352 may push the retainer 342 against the annular rim 356, preventing the retainer 342 from radially expanding.

During assembly of the vertebral anchor 310, the retainer 342 may be inserted into the lower opening 338 of the housing 312. For example, the plurality of alternating tabs 346 and slots 348 formed around the circumference of the retainer 342 may provide the retainer 342 with sufficient flexibility to be urged through the lower opening 338 from the lower end 330 of the housing 312 by radially compressing the retainer 342.

With the retainer 342 positioned in the bore 326 of the housing 312, the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 may be inserted into the cavity 344 of the retainer 342 through the lower opening 338 from the lower end 330 in a bottom loaded manner. The diameter of the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 may be less than the diameter of the lower opening 338 at the annular rim 356 to allow the head portion 318 to pass therethrough. As shown in FIG. 4B, the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314, or another structure, may apply a force against the retainer 342 opposing and overcoming the biasing force of the intermediate portion having the slots 252 which urges the retainer 342 to the second position in which the retainer 342 is moved toward the upper end 328 of the housing 312 along the longitudinal axis of the bore 326. Now positioned in an enlarged diameter portion 336 of the bore 326 and radially unconstrained by the interior surface of the bore 326 and/or the annular rim 356 at the lower opening 338 of the housing 312, the flexibility of the retainer 342 allows the retainer 342 to be radially expanded. For example, the plurality of tabs 346 of the retainer 342 may be deflected radially outward in order to allow the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 to pass into the cavity 344 of the retainer 342. The presence of the annular space 354 allows the retainer 342 to radially expand to accommodate insertion of the head portion 318 into the cavity 344.

Once the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 is positioned in the cavity 344, the applied force to the retainer 342 may be removed, allowing the biasing force of the intermediate portion having the slots 252 or other biasing means to move the retainer 342 back to the first position toward the lower end 330 of the housing 312 and into engagement with the reduced diameter annular portion of the housing 312 to prevent further radial expansion or splaying of the retainer 342. In some instances, the retainer 342 may include a lower beveled surface which contacts the annular rim 356 of the housing 312 to urge the tabs 346 of the retainer 342 radially inward and/or prevent radial splaying to secure the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314 in the cavity 344 of the retainer 342.

When an elongate member 340 is secured in the channel 320 of the housing 312, a clamping force may be exerted against the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314. However, because the lower opening of the retainer 342 when at the first position has a diameter less than the diameter of the head portion 318 of the bone screw 314, the head portion 318 is prevented from being removed from the cavity 344 of the retainer 342 since the annular rim 356 of the housing 312 resists radial expansion of the lower opening of the retainer 342 when pressed thereagainst.

Yet another exemplary embodiment of a vertebral anchor 410, shown as a polyaxial pedicle screw, is illustrated in FIG. 5. The vertebral anchor 410 may include several components. For example, the vertebral anchor 410 may include a housing 412 pivotably coupled to a bone screw 414. The bone screw 414 may include a shaft portion 416, which may in some instances be threaded, extending from a head portion 418, which may in some instances be spherically shaped. The shaft 416 may be configured to be installed into a bony region of a vertebra of the spinal column. For example, the shaft 416 may be installed into a pedicle of a vertebra, or other region of a vertebra. The bone screw 414 may be pivotable relative to the housing 412 such that the longitudinal axis of the bone screw 414 is positioned at one of multiple angular orientations relative to the longitudinal axis of the housing 412.

The housing 412 may include a channel 420, such as a U-shaped channel extending from one side of the housing 412 to an opposite second side of the housing 412. The channel 420 may be defined between opposing first and second legs 422, 424 of the housing 412. The housing 412 may also include a bore 426 extending through the housing 412 along a longitudinal axis from the upper end 428 to the lower end 430 of the housing 412 which intersects the channel 420.

The housing 412 of the vertebral anchor 410 may be configured to receive an elongate member 440 of a vertebral stabilization system, such as a rigid or flexible fixation element, including a spinal rod or flexible cord, therein. For example, the channel 420 may be open to the upper end 428 of the housing 412 such that the elongate member 440 may be positioned in the channel 420 in a top-loaded fashion in which the elongate member 440 is moved into the channel 420 of the housing 412 in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the channel 420 of the housing 412.

The vertebral anchor 410 may also include a securing element, such as a threaded fastener (not shown) configured to rotatably engage the housing 412 to secure a portion of the elongate member 440 in the channel 420. For example, the threaded fastener may include threads which mate with a threaded portion 432 formed in the legs 422, 424 of the housing 412. In other embodiments, the fastener may include one or more flanges, cam surfaces, or other engagement features that engage with one or more channels, grooves, surfaces, or other engagement features of the housing 412 through rotation of the fastener. The fastener may be rotatably engaged between the spaced apart legs 422, 424 of the housing 412 which define the channel 420 therebetween.

The vertebral anchor 410 may also include one or more components for coupling the housing 412 to the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414. For instance, a lower portion of the housing 412 may include a cavity 444 for receiving the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 therein. In some instances, the cavity 444 may be a spherically concave cavity complementing the spherical shape of the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414. The lower portion of the housing 412 may be formed of a resilient material, such as a pliable polymeric material or a malleable metallic material, providing the lower portion of the housing 412 a desired amount of flexibility. The lower portion of the housing 412 may include a plurality of alternating tabs 446 and slots 448 spaced around a periphery of the lower portion of the housing 412 enhancing the flexibility of the lower portion of the housing 412. For example, a radially inward force may be exerted on the tabs 446 to deflect the tabs 446 radially inward, whereas a radially outward force may be exerted on the tabs 446 to deflect or splay the tabs 446 radially outward to radially enlarge the lower opening 438 into the cavity 444 of the lower portion of the housing 412.

A collar 470 may be provided which may be positioned circumferentially around the tabs 446 of the lower portion of the housing 412 to prevent radial outward deflection or splaying of the tabs 446 when the housing 412 is coupled to the bone screw 414. In some instances, the collar 470 may include opposing flat or planar side surfaces to facilitate manipulation of the collar 470.

The vertebral anchor 410 may also include a spacer 450 positioned in the bore 426 having a first portion which is configured to engage an elongate stabilization member 440 disposed in the channel 420 of the housing 412 and a second portion which is configured to engage the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414.

The vertebral anchor 410 may further include a resilient spring means biasing the spacer 450 toward the lower end 430 of the housing 412 and into engagement with the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414. As shown in FIG. 5, the resilient spring means may be a wave washer 452, however, in other instances the resilient spring means may be a helical spring, elastomeric member, an integral portion of the spacer 450, or another structure configured to urge the spacer 450 toward the lower end 430 of the housing 412.

The arrangement of components for coupling the housing 412 to the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 is further illustrated in FIG. 5 A. As shown in FIG. 5A, the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 may be positioned in the cavity 444, surrounded by the tabs 446 of the housing 412. The spacer 450 may be positioned between the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 and the elongate member 440, with a portion of the spacer 450 extending through the wave washer 452. The wave washer 452 may be positioned between the spacer 450 and the housing 412 and compressed between an annular rim of the housing 412 facing the lower end 430 of the housing 412 and an annular surface of an enlarged diameter portion of the spacer 450 facing the upper end 428 of the housing 412. The collar 470 may be positioned circumferentially around the tabs 446 of the lower portion of the housing 412, preventing radial outward deflection or splaying of the tabs 446.

During assembly of the vertebral anchor 10, the head portion 418 of the bone screw 412 may be passed into the cavity 444 of the lower portion of the housing 412 from the lower end 430 of the housing 412 by radially deflecting or splaying the plurality of tabs 446 radially outward from a first, equilibrium position to a second position in which the diameter of the annular rim 456 is greater than or equal to the diameter of the head portion 418, as shown in FIG. 5B..

Once the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 is positioned in the cavity 444 above the annular rim 456, the tabs 446 will move back toward the first, equilibrium position with the annular rim 456 surrounding a portion of the head portion 418 below the greatest extent of the head portion 418. The collar 470 may then be positioned circumferentially around the tabs 446 of the lower portion of the housing 412, preventing further radial outward deflection or splaying of the tabs 446. In some instances, the collar 470 may include a beveled surface 472 proximate the upper opening of the collar 470 which facilitates advancing the collar 470 over the annular rim 447 of the tabs 446.

When an elongate member 440 is secured in the channel 420 of the housing 412, a clamping force may be exerted against the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414. However, the annular rim 456 of the housing 414, which has a diameter less than the diameter of the head portion 418 of the bone screw 414 when at the first position, prevents the head portion 418 from being removed from the cavity 444 since the collar 470 prevents radial slaying of the tabs 446.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that the present invention may be manifested in a variety of forms other than the specific embodiments described and contemplated herein. Accordingly, departure in form and detail may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention as described in the appended claims.