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1.  Placement of pedicle screws using three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation in lumbar vertebrae with axial rotation 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(11):1928-1935.
Despite potential advantages of three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation, there still remain a lot of controversies about the indications of this technology, especially whether it is worthy of being used in placement of pedicle screws in lumbar spine. However, according to the inconsistent conclusions reported in the literature and our experiences, the traditional method relying on anatomical landmarks and fluoroscopic views to guide lumbar pedicle screw insertion is unable to meet the requirement of precise screw placement. Based on our observation, screw malposition seems to occur concomitant with vertebral axial rotation which is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation can provide the most valuable axial images in real-time, so it may be useful for placement of pedicle screws in lumbar spine. This study was intended to evaluate the effect of axial rotation of lumbar vertebrae on the accuracy of pedicle screw placement using the traditional method, as well as assess the value of three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation in improving the accuracy. Sixteen lumbar simulation models at different degrees of axial rotation (0°, 5°, 10°, and 20°), with every four assigned the same degree, were equally divided into two groups (traditional method group and three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation group). Random placement of pedicle screws was carried out, followed by CT scan postoperatively. Then the outer pedicle cortex contours were depicted from reconstructed sectional pedicle images using Photoshop. The accuracy of pedicle screw placement was evaluated by determining the interrelationship between screw trajectory and pedicle cortex (quality), and measuring the shortest distance from pedicle screw axis to outer cortex of the pedicle (quantity). Eighty pedicle screws were implanted, respectively, in each group. In traditional method group, statistical difference existed in the accuracy of pedicle screw placement at different axial rotational degrees (P < 0.05). With degrees increasing, the accuracy declined. The accuracy of three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation group was higher than traditional method group in vertebrae with axial rotation (P < 0.01). In qualitative evaluation, the accuracy of the two methods had statistical difference when the degree was 20°, and in quantitative evaluation, statistical difference existed in 5°, 10°, and 20° of vertebral axial rotation.
PMCID: PMC2989269  PMID: 20821028
Lumbar spine; Pedicle screw; Vertebral rotation; Three-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation; Accuracy
2.  The surgical learning curve and accuracy of minimally invasive lumbar pedicle screw placement using CT based computer-assisted navigation plus continuous electromyography monitoring – a retrospective review of 627 screws in 150 patients 
This study retrospectively assessed the accuracy of placement of lumbar pedicle screws placed by a single surgeon using a minimally-invasive, intra-operative CT-based computer navigated technique in combination with continuous electromyography (EMG) monitoring. The rates of incorrectly positioned screws were reviewed in the context of the surgeon's experience and learning curve.
Data was retrospectively reviewed from all consecutive minimally invasive lumbar fusions performed by the primary author over a period of over 4 years from April 2008 until October 2012. All cases that had utilized computer-assisted intra-operative CT-based image guidance and continuous EMG monitoring to guide percutaneous pedicle screw placement were analysed for the rates of malposition of the pedicle screws. Pedicle screw malposition was defined as having occurred if the screw trajectory was adjusted intraoperatively due to positive EMG responses, or due to breach of the pedicle cortex by more than 2mm on intraoperative CT imaging performed at the end of the instrumentation procedure. Further analysis of the data was undertaken to determine if the rates of malposition changed with the surgeon's experience with the technique.
Six hundred and twenty-seven pedicle screws were placed in one hundred and fifty patients. The overall rate of intraoperative malposition and subsequent adjustment of pedicle screw placement was 3.8% (24 of 627 screws). Screw malposition was detected by intraoperative CT imaging. Warning of potential screw misplacement was provided by use of the EMG monitoring. With increased experience with the technique, rates of intraoperative pedicle screw malposition were found to decrease from 5.1% of screws in the first fifty patients, to 2.0% in the last 50 patients. Only one screw was suboptimally placed at the end of surgery, which did not result in a neurological deficit.
The use of CT-based computer-assisted navigation in combination with continuous EMG monitoring during percutaneous transpedicular screw placement results in very low rates of malposition and neural injury that compare favourably with previously reported rates. Pedicle screw placement accuracy continues to improve as the surgeon becomes more experienced with the technique.
PMCID: PMC4325487
minimally invasive spine surgery; lumbar fusion; Pedicle screw; Spinal navigation; learning curve
3.  Commentary: Utility of the O-Arm in spinal surgery 
Surgical Neurology International  2014;5(Suppl 15):S517-S519.
More studies report the intraoperative benefits vs. risks of utilizing the O-Arm in performing pedicle screw insertion in spinal surgery.
Several studies document the utility of CT-guided O-arm placement of pedicle/lateral mass screws. Singh et al. documented the efficacy of CT guided-O Arm placement of pedicle screws and lateral mass screws in the upper cervical spine.[4] Specifically, 10 patients with unstable hangman's fractures (ages 17-80) required 52 screws; C2 pedicle screws (20), C3 lateral mass screws (20), C4 lateral mass screws (12) and one C2 pedicle screw. Of these only 5% were misplaced, and none had new neuorlogical deficits. Kim et al. demonstrated the safety/efficacy of the CT/O-arm in minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS) (posterior percutaneous spinal fusions).[1] Of 290 pedicle screws, 280 (96.6%) were acceptably placed. Kotani et al. compared the placement of 222 pedicle screws (29 patients operated upon with CT-based navigation) vs. 416 screws (32 having surgery using O-arm-based navigation); postoperative CT studies confirmed the accuracy of screw placement, and no significant differences in the frequency of grade 2-3 perforations between the two groups. Nelson et al. analyzed the radiation exposure delivered to the operating room staff utilizing C-arm fluoroscopy (C-arm), portable X-ray (XR) radiography, and portable cone-beam computed tomography (O-arm); the surgeon and assistant were exposed to higher levels of scatter radiation from the C-arm, with a 7.7-fold increase in radiation exposure on the tube vs. detector sides.[3]
There are several pros and a few cons (radiation dosage) for the use of the O-arm in spine surgery.
PMCID: PMC4287897  PMID: 25593769
O Arm; radiation dosage; spinal surgery; utility
4.  Novel free-hand T1 pedicle screw method: Review of 44 consecutive cases 
Summary of Background Data:
Multilevel posterior cervical instrumented fusions are becoming more prevalent in current practice. Biomechanical characteristics of the cervicothoracic junction may necessitate extending the construct to upper thoracic segments. However, fixation in upper thoracic spine can be technically demanding owing to transitional anatomy while suboptimal placement facilitates vascular and neurologic complications. Thoracic instrumentation methods include free-hand, fluoroscopic guidance, and CT-based image guidance. However, fluoroscopy of upper thoracic spine is challenging secondary to vertebral geometry and patient positioning, while image-guided systems present substantial financial commitment and are not readily available at most centers. Additionally, imaging modalities increase radiation exposure to the patient and surgeon while potentially lengthening surgical time.
Materials and Methods:
Retrospective review of 44 consecutive patients undergoing a cervicothoracic fusion by a single surgeon using the novel free-hand T1 pedicle screw technique between June 2009 and November 2012. A starting point medial and cephalad to classic entry as well as new trajectory were utilized. No imaging modalities were employed during screw insertion. Postoperative CT scans were obtained on day 1. Screw accuracy was independently evaluated according to the Heary classification.
In total, 87 pedicle screws placed were at T1. Grade 1 placement occurred in 72 (82.8%) screws, Grade 2 in 4 (4.6%) screws and Grade 3 in 9 (10.3%) screws. All Grade 2 and 3 breaches were <2 mm except one Grade 3 screw breaching 2-4 mm laterally. Only two screws (2.3%) were noted to be Grade 4, both breaching medially by less than 2 mm. No new neurological deficits or returns to operating room took place postoperatively.
This modification of the traditional starting point and trajectory at T1 is safe and effective. It attenuates additional bone removal or imaging modalities while maintaining a high rate of successful screw placement compared to historical controls.
PMCID: PMC4173230  PMID: 25288835
Cervicothoracic; free-hand; pedicle screw; technique; thoracic; thoracic starting points
5.  Percutaneous pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine: A cadaveric study 
Asian Journal of Neurosurgery  2013;8(3):153-156.
Study Design:
A cadaveric study to determine the accuracy of percutaneous screw placement in the thoracic spine using standard fluoroscopic guidance.
Summary of Background Data:
While use of percutaneous pedicle screws in the lumbar spine has increased rapidly, its acceptance in the thoracic spine has been slower. As indications for pedicle screw fixation increase in the thoracic spine so will the need to perform accurate and safe placement of percutaneous screws with or without image navigation. To date, no study has determined the accuracy of percutaneous thoracic pedicle screw placement without use of stereotactic imaging guidance.
Materials and Methods:
Eighty-six thoracic pedicle screw placements were performed in four cadaveric thoracic spines from T1 to T12. At each level, Ferguson anterior–posterior fluoroscopy was used to localize the pedicle and define the entry point. Screw placement was attempted unless the borders of the pedicle could not be delineated solely using intraoperative fluoroscopic guidance. The cadavers were assessed using pre- and postprocedural computed tomography (CT) scans as well as dissected and visually inspected in order to determine the medial breach rate.
Ninety pedicles were attempted and 86 screws were placed. CT analysis of screw placement accuracy revealed that only one screw (1.2%) breached the medial aspect of the pedicle by more than 2 mm. A total of four screws (4.7%) were found to have breached medially by visual inspection (three Grade 1 and one Grade 2). One (1.2%) lateral breach was greater than 2 mm and no screw violated the neural foramen. The correlation coefficient of pedicle screw violations and pedicle diameter was found to be 0.96.
This cadaveric study shows that percutaneous pedicle screw placement can be performed in the thoracic spine without a significant increase in the pedicle breach rate as compared with standard open techniques. A small percentage (4.4%) of pedicles, especially high in the thoracic spine, may not be safely visualized.
PMCID: PMC3877502  PMID: 24403958
Minimally invasive surgery; pedicle screw; thoracic spine
6.  Pedicle screw insertion accuracy with different assisted methods: a systematic review and meta-analysis of comparative studies 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(6):846-859.
Studies revealed that navigation systems that provided intraoperative assistance might improve pedicle screw insertion accuracy, and also implied that different systems provided different pedicle screw insertion accuracy. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to focus on the pedicle screw insertion accuracy with or without the assistance of image-guided system, and the variance among the different navigation systems. Comparative studies were searched on pedicle screw insertion accuracy between conventional and navigated method, and among different navigation systems. A total of 43 papers, including 28 clinical, 14 cadaveric and 1 model studies, were included in the current study. For clinical articles, there were 3 randomized clinical trials, 4 prospective comparative studies and 21 retrospective comparative studies. The incidence of pedicle violation among computer tomography-based navigation method group was statistically significantly less than that observed among the conventional group (OR 95% CI, in vivo: 0.32–0.60; in vitro: 0.24–0.75 P < 0.01). Two-dimensional fluoroscopy-based navigation system (OR 95% CI, in vivo: 0.27–0.48; in vitro: 0.43–0.88 P < 0.01) and three-dimension fluoroscopy-based navigation system (OR 95% CI, in vivo: 0.09–0.38; in vitro: 0.09–0.36 P < 0.01) also obtained significant reduced screw deviation rate over traditional methods. Between navigated approaches, statistically insignificant individual and pooled RR values were observed for all in vivo subgroups. Pooled estimate of in vitro studies show that computer tomography-based and three-dimension fluoroscopy-based navigation system provided more accurate pedicle screw insertion over two-dimension fluoroscopy-based navigation system. Our review showed that navigation provided a higher accuracy in the placement of pedicle screws compared with conventional methods. The superiority of navigation systems was obvious when they were applied to abnormal spinal structure. Although no strong in vivo evidence has detected significantly different pedicle screw placement accuracy among the three major navigation systems, meta-analysis revealed the variance in pedicle screw insertion accuracy with different navigation methods.
PMCID: PMC3099151  PMID: 20862593
Navigated spine surgery; Pedicle screw; Computer tomography; Fluoroscopy; Accuracy
7.  Lumbar pedicle screw placement: Using only AP plane imaging 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2012;46(4):434-438.
Variations in the pedicle morphology and presence of spinal deformities can make pedicle screw placement challenging. Recently, computerized tomography (CT) guided screw placement has reportedly improved the surgical accuracy of pedicle screw insertion. However, it is time consuming and expensive. We combined single-plane fluoroscopy in AP projection alone with tactile guidance for placing pedicle screws more efficiently and accurately. This report presents our results with this technique.
Materials and Methods:
An Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved retrospective study was carried out on 308 patients who underwent lumbar spinal fusion with 1806 pedicle screws placed using fluoroscopy only in the AP plane. There were 182 patients with two-level fusion, 79 with single-level fusion, 26 with three-level fusion, and 21 with more than three-level fusions. The indications of surgery included spondylolisthesis, adult scoliosis, revision surgery, lumbar canal stenosis, and discogenic pain. Pedicle screws were inserted under fluoroscopic guidance in the AP plane alone with a final lateral image after completion of implant placement. Radiographs were performed postoperatively in all patients and CT scans were obtained on 78 patients with 588 screws.
Twenty nine (5%) cortical wall perforations were noted amongst the 588 screws that were evaluated with a CT scan and did not result in postoperative vascular or neural complications. Anterior cortical vertebral violation was noted in 14 patients, while in 9 patients the screws penetrated the lateral wall of the pedicle. The medial wall of the pedicle was encroached in six patients with no frank perforations.
Placement of pedicle screws under fluoroscopic guidance using AP plane imaging alone with tactile guidance is safe, fast, and reliable. However, a good understanding of the radiographic landmarks is a prerequisite.
PMCID: PMC3421934  PMID: 22912519
Lumbar spine; pedicle screw; fluoroscopy; AP imaging
8.  Cervical pedicle screw placement: feasibility and accuracy of two new insertion techniques based on morphometric data 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(1):47-56.
This morphometric and experimental study was designed to assess the dimensions and axes of the subaxial cervical pedicles and to compare the accuracy of two different techniques for subaxial cervical pedicle screw (CPS) placement using newly designed aiming devices. Transpedicular fixation is increasingly used for stabilizing the subaxial cervical spine. Development of the demanding technique is based on morphometric studies of the pedicle anatomy. Several surgical techniques have been developed and evaluated with respect to their feasibility and accuracy. The study was carried out on six conserved human cadavers (average age 85 years). Axes and dimensions of the pedicles C3–C7 (60 pedicles) were measured using multislice computed tomography (CT) images prior to surgery. Two groups consisting of 3 specimens and 30 pedicles each were established according to the screw placement technique. For surgical technique 1 (ST1) a para-articular mini-laminotomy was performed. Guidance of the drill through the pedicle with a handheld aiming device attached onto the medial aspect of the pedicle inside the spinal canal. Screw hole preparation monitored by lateral fluoroscopy. In surgical technique 2 (ST2) a more complex aiming device was used for screw holes drilling. It consists of a frame with a fully adjustable radiolucent arm for carrying the instruments necessary for placing the screws. The arm was angled according to the cervical pedicle axis as determined by the preoperative CT scans. Drilling was monitored by lateral fluoroscopy. In either technique 3.5 mm screws made of carbon fiber polyetheretherketone (CF-PEEK) were inserted. The use of the CF-PEEK screws allowed for precise postoperative CT-assessment since this material does not cause artifacts. Screw placement was qualified from ideal to unacceptable into four grades: I = screw centered in pedicle; IIa = perforation of pedicle wall less than one-fourth of the screw diameter; IIb = perforation more than one-fourth of the screw diameter without contact to neurovascular structures; III = screw more than one-fourth outside the pedicle with contact to neurovascular structures. Fifty-six pedicle screws could be evaluated according to the same CT protocol that was used preoperatively. Accuracy of pedicle screw placement did not reveal significant differences between techniques 1 and 2. A tendency towards less severe misplacements (grade III) was seen in ST2 (15% in ST2 vs. 23% in ST1) as well as a higher rate of screw positions graded IIa (62% in ST2 vs. 43% in ST1). C4 and C5 were identified to be the most critical vertebral levels with three malpositioned screws each. Because of the variability of cervical pedicles preoperative CT evaluation with multiplanar reconstructions of the pedicle anatomy is essential for transpedicular screw placement in the cervical spine. Cadaver studies remain mandatory to develop safer and technically less demanding procedures. A similar study is projected to further develop the technique of CPS fixation with regard to safety and clinical practicability.
PMCID: PMC2198884  PMID: 16628443
Cervical spine; Cervical pedicle; Anatomical study; Fixation technique
9.  Accuracy and Safety in Pedicle Screw Placement in the Thoracic and Lumbar Spines : Comparison Study between Conventional C-Arm Fluoroscopy and Navigation Coupled with O-Arm® Guided Methods 
The authors performed a retrospective study to assess the accuracy and clinical benefits of a navigation coupled with O-arm® system guided method in the thoracic and lumbar spines by comparing with a C-arm fluoroscopy-guided method.
Under the navigation guidance, 106 pedicle screws inserted from T7 to S1 in 24 patients, and using the fluoroscopy guidance, 204 pedicle screws from T5 to S1 in 45 patients. The position of screws within the pedicle was classified into four groups, from grade 0 (no violation cortex) to 3 (more than 4 mm violation). The location of violated pedicle cortex was also assessed. Intra-operative parameters including time required for preparation of screwing procedure, times for screwing and the number of X-ray shot were assessed in each group.
Grade 0 was observed in 186 (91.2%) screws of the fluoroscopy-guided group, and 99 (93.4%) of the navigation-guided group. Mean time required for inserting a screw was 3.8 minutes in the fluoroscopy-guided group, and 4.5 minutes in the navigation-guided group. Mean time required for preparation of screw placement was 4 minutes in the fluoroscopy-guided group, and 19 minutes in the navigation-guided group. The fluoroscopy-guided group required mean 8.9 times of X-ray shot for each screw placement.
The screw placement under the navigation-guidance coupled with O-arm® system appears to be more accurate and safer than that under the fluoroscopy guidance, although the preparation and screwing time for the navigation-guided surgery is longer than that for the fluoroscopy-guided surgery.
PMCID: PMC3483320  PMID: 23115662
Cervical trauma; Sub-axial injury classification scale; Cervical spine injury; Interobserver agreement; Intraobserver reliability
10.  A new free-hand pedicle screw placement technique with reference to the supraspinal ligament 
Journal of Biomedical Research  2013;28(1):64-70.
We sought to compare the safety and accuracy of a new free-hand pedicle screw placement technique to that of the conventional technique. One hundred fifty-three consecutive adult patients with simple fracture in the thoracic or/and lumbar spine were alternately assigned to either the new free-hand or the conventional group. In the new free-hand technique group, preoperative computerized tomography (CT) images were used to calculate the targeted medial-lateral angle of each pedicle trajectory and the pedicle screw was inserted perpendicular to the correspond-ing supraspinal ligament. In the conventional technique group, the medial-lateral and cranial-caudal angle of each pedicle trajectory was determined by intraoperatively under fluoroscopic guidance. The accuracy rate of pedicle screw placement, the time of intraoperative fluoroscopy, the operating time and the amount of blood loss during operation were respectively compared. All screws were analyzed by using intraoperative radiographs, intraoperative triggered electromyography (EMG) monitoring data, postoperative CT data and clinical outcomes. The accuracy rate of pedicle screw placement in the new free-hand technique group and the conventional technique group was 96.3% and 94.2% (P < 0.05), respectively. The intraoperative fluoroscopy time of the new technique group was less than that of the conventional technique group (5.37 seconds vs. 8.79 seconds, P < 0.05). However, there was no statistical difference in the operating time and the amount of blood loss during operation (P > 0.05). Pedicle screw placement with the free-hand technique which keeps the screw perpendicular to the supraspinal ligament is an accurate, reliable and safe technique to treat simple fracture in the thoracic or lumbar spine.
PMCID: PMC3904177  PMID: 24474966
spine fracture; pedicle screw placement; radiation exposure; supraspinal ligament; anatomy reference
11.  Accuracy of percutaneous pedicle screws for thoracic and lumbar spine fractures: a prospective trial 
European Spine Journal  2012;22(3):495-502.
The percutaneous insertion technique requires surgical skill and experience. However, there have been few clinical reports evaluating the accuracy of minimally invasive pedicle screw placement using the conventional fluoroscopy method. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of percutaneous pedicle screw placement in the treatment of thoracic and lumbar spine fractures using two-plane conventional fluoroscopy.
A prospective clinical trial was performed. A total of 502 percutaneous pedicle screws in 111 patients, all inserted with the assistance of conventional fluoroscopy, were evaluated. The safety and accuracy of pedicle screw placement were based on the evaluation of postoperative axial 3-mm slice computed tomography scans using the scoring system described by Zdichavsky et al. [Eur J Trauma 30:234–240, 2004; Eur J Trauma 30:241–247, 2004].
427/502 pedicle screws (85 %) were classified as good and excellent concerning the best possible screw length and 494/502 (98 %) were found to have good or excellent position. One screw had to be revised due to medial position with a neurological deficit.
This study demonstrates the feasibility of placing percutaneous posterior thoracolumbar pedicle screws with the assistance of conventional fluoroscopy. Minimally invasive transpedicular instrumentation is an accurate, reliable and safe method to treat a variety of spinal disorders, including thoracic and lumbar spine fractures.
PMCID: PMC3585653  PMID: 22903200
Thoracolumbar spine fractures; Pedicle screw; Percutaneous technique; Minimally invasive spine surgery; Transpedicular instrumentation
12.  Assessment of CAOS as a training model in spinal surgery: a randomised study 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(2):239-244.
The objectives of this study were (1) to quantify the benefit of computer assisted orthopaedic surgery (CAOS) pedicle screw insertion in a porcine cadaver model evaluated by dissection and computed tomography (CT); (2) to compare the effect on performance of four surgeons with no experience of CAOS, and varying experience of pedicle screw insertion; (3) to see if CT with extended windows was an acceptable method to evaluate the position of the pedicle screws in the porcine cadaver model, compared to dissection. This was a prospective, randomised, controlled and blinded porcine cadaver study. Twelve 6-month-old porcine (white skinned Landrace) lumbar spines were scanned pre-operatively by spiral CT, as required for the CAOS computer data set. Computer randomisation allocated the specimens to one of four surgeons, all new to CAOS but with different levels of experience in spinal surgery. The usual anatomical landmarks for the freehand technique were known to all four surgeons. Two pedicles at each vertebral level were randomly allocated between conventional free hand insertion and an electromagnetic image guided surgery (NAVITRAK®) and 6.5 mm cancellous AO screws inserted. Post-operatively, spiral CT was blindly evaluated by an independent radiologist and the spine fellow to assess the accuracy of pedicle screw placement, by each method. The inter- and intra-observer reliability of CT was evaluated compared to dissection. The pedicle screw placement was assessed as perfect if within the pedicle along its central axis, or acceptable (within < 2 mm from perfect), and measured in millimetres from perfect thereafter. One hundred and sixty-six of 168 pedicles in 12 porcine spines were operated on. Complete data were present for 163 pedicles (81 CAOS, 82 freehand). In the CAOS group 84% of screws were deemed acceptable or perfect, compared to 75.6% with the freehand technique. Screw misplacement was significantly reduced using CAOS (P = 0.049). Seventy-nine percent of CAOS screws were ideally placed compared with 64% with a conventional freehand technique (P = 0.05). A logistic linear regression model showed that the miss placed pedicle screw rate was significantly reduced using CAOS (P = 0.047). CAOS benefited the least experienced surgeons most (the research registrars acceptable rate increased from 70 to 90% and the spine fellow from 76 to 86%). CAOS did not have a statistically significant effect on the experienced consultant spine surgeon increasing from 70 to 79% (P = 0.39). The experienced general orthopaedic surgeon did not benefit from CAOS (P = 0.5). CT compared to dissection showed an intra-observer reliability of 99.4% and inter-observer reliability of 92.6%. The conclusions of this study were as follows: (1) an increased number of pedicle screws were ideally placed using the CAOS electromagnetic guidance system compared to the conventional freehand technique; (2) junior surgeons benefited most from CAOS; (3) we believe CAOS (Navitrak®) with porcine lumbar spines evaluated by post operative CT, represents a useful model for training junior surgeons in pedicle screw placement; (4) experienced spine surgeons, who have never used CAOS, may find CAOS less helpful than previously reported.
PMCID: PMC2200694  PMID: 16683122
Pedicle screw insertion; Computer assisted orthopaedic surgery; Conventional fluoroscopic technique; Training model; Porcine cadaver lumbar spine study
13.  Subaxial cervical pedicle screw insertion with newly defined entry point and trajectory: accuracy evaluation in cadavers 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(1):105-112.
Successful placement of cervical pedicle screws requires accurate identification of both entry point and trajectory. However, literature has not provided consistent recommendations regarding the direction of pedicle screw insertion and entry point location. The objective of this study was to define a guideline regarding the optimal entry point and trajectory in placing subaxial cervical pedicle screws and to evaluate the screw accuracy in cadaver cervical spines. The guideline for entry point and trajectory for each vertebra was established based on the recently published morphometric data. Six fresh frozen cervical spines (C3–C7) were used. There were two men and four women. After posterior exposure, the entry point was determined and the cortical bone of the entry point was removed using a 2-mm burr. Pilot holes were created with a cervical probe based on the guideline using fluoroscopy. After tapping, 3.5-mm screws with appropriate length were inserted. After screw insertion, every vertebra was dissected and inspected for pedicle breach. The pedicle width, height, pedicle transverse angulation and actual screw insertion angle were measured. A total of 60 pedicle screws were inserted. No statistical difference in pedicle width and height was found between the left and right sides for each level. The overall accuracy of pedicle screws was 83.3%. The remaining 13.3% screws had noncritical breach, and 3.3% had critical breach. The critical breach was not caused by the guideline. There was no statistical difference between the pedicle transverse angulation and the actual screw trajectory created using the guideline. There was statistical difference in pedicle width between the breach and non-breach screws. In conclusion, high success rate of subaxial cervical pedicle screw placement can be achieved using the recently proposed operative guideline and oblique views of fluoroscopy. However, careful preoperative planning and good surgical skills are still required to ensure screw placement accuracy and to reduce the risk of neural and vascular injury.
PMCID: PMC2899726  PMID: 19916031
Cervical spine; Pedicle screw; Entry point; Trajectory
14.  Accuracy of Pedicle Screw Insertion Using Fluoroscopy-Based Navigation-Assisted Surgery : Computed Tomography Postoperative Assessment in 96 Consecutive Patients 
Two-dimensional fluoroscopy-based computerized navigation for the placement of pedicle screws offers the advantage of using stored patient-specific imaging data in providing real-time guidance during screw placement. The study aimed to describe the accuracy and reliability of a fluoroscopy-based navigation system for pedicle screw insertion.
A total of 477 pedicle screws were inserted in the lower back of 96 consecutive patients between October 2007 and June 2012 using fluoroscopy-based computer-assisted surgery. The accuracy of screw placement was evaluated using a sophisticated computed tomography protocol.
Of the 477 pedicle screws, 461 (96.7%) were judged to be inserted correctly. Frank screw misplacement [16 screws (3.3%)] was observed in 15 patients. Of these, 8 were classified as minimally misplaced (≤2 mm); 3, as moderately misplaced (2.1-4 mm); and 5, as severely misplaced (>4 mm). No complications, including nerve root injury, cerebrospinal fluid leakage, or internal organ injury, were observed in any of the patients.
The accuracy of pedicle screw placement using a fluoroscopy-based computer navigation system was observed to be superior to that obtained with conventional techniques.
PMCID: PMC4185314  PMID: 25289120
Accuracy; Pedicle screw; Fluoroscopy-based navigator
15.  Inserting pedicle screws in the upper thoracic spine without the use of fluoroscopy or image guidance. Is it safe? 
European Spine Journal  2006;16(5):625-629.
Several studies have looked at accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement using fluoroscopy, image guidance, and anatomical landmarks. To our knowledge the upper thoracic spine (T1–T6) has not been specifically studied in the context of screw insertion and placement accuracy without the use of either image guidance or fluoroscopy. Our objective was to study the accuracy of upper thoracic screw placement without the use of fluoroscopy or image guidance, and report on implant related complications. A single surgeon inserted 60 screws in 13 consecutive non-scoliotic spine patients. These were the first 60 screws placed in the high thoracic spine in our institution. The most common diagnosis in our patient population was trauma. All screws were inserted using a modified Roy-Camille technique. Post-operative axial computed tomography (CT) images were obtained for each patient and analyzed by an independent senior radiologist for placement accuracy. Implant related complications were prospectively noted. No pedicle screw misplacement was found in 61.5% of the patients. In the remaining 38.5% of patients some misplacements were noted. Fifty-three screws out of the total 60 implanted were placed correctly within all the pedicle margins. The overall pedicle screw placement accuracy was 88.3% using our modified Roy-Camille technique. Five medial and two lateral violations were noted in the seven misplaced screws. One of the seven misplaced screws was considered to be questionable in terms of pedicle perforation. No implant related complications were noted. We found that inserting pedicle screws in the upper thoracic spine based solely on anatomical landmarks was safe with an accuracy comparable to that of published studies using image-guided navigation at the thoracic level.
PMCID: PMC2213551  PMID: 17106663
Spine surgery; Pedicle screws; Thoracic spine; Imaging studies
16.  Techniques and accuracy of thoracolumbar pedicle screw placement 
World Journal of Orthopedics  2014;5(2):112-123.
Pedicle screw instrumentation has been used to stabilize the thoracolumbar spine for several decades. Although pedicle screws were originally placed via a free-hand technique, there has been a movement in favor of pedicle screw placement with the aid of imaging. Such assistive techniques include fluoroscopy guidance and stereotactic navigation. Imaging has the benefit of increased visualization of a pedicle’s trajectory, but can result in increased morbidity associated with radiation exposure, increased time expenditure, and possible workflow interruption. Many institutions have reported high accuracies with each of these three core techniques. However, due to differing definitions of accuracy and varying radiographic analyses, it is extremely difficult to compare studies side-by-side to determine which techniques are superior. From the literature, it can be concluded that pedicles of vertebrae within the mid-thoracic spine and vertebrae that have altered morphology due to scoliosis or other deformities are the most difficult to cannulate. Thus, spine surgeons would benefit the most from using assistive technologies in these circumstances. All other pedicles in the thoracolumbar spine should theoretically be cannulated with ease via a free-hand technique, given appropriate training and experience. Despite these global recommendations, appropriate techniques must be chosen at the surgeon’s discretion. Such determinations should be based on the surgeon’s experience and the specific pathology that will be treated.
PMCID: PMC4017304  PMID: 24829874
Thoracic vertebrae; Lumbar vertebrae; Pedicle screw; Fluoroscopy; Computed tomography
17.  Accuracy of pedicle screw placement: a systematic review of prospective in vivo studies comparing free hand, fluoroscopy guidance and navigation techniques 
European Spine Journal  2011;21(2):247-255.
With the advances and improvement of computer-assisted surgery devices, computer-guided pedicle screws insertion has been applied to the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine. The purpose of the present study was to perform a systematic review of all available prospective evidence regarding pedicle screw insertion techniques in the thoracic and lumbar human spine.
Materials and methods
We considered all prospective in vivo clinical studies in the English literature that assessed the results of different pedicle screw placement techniques (free-hand technique, fluoroscopy guided, computed tomography (CT)-based navigation, fluoro-based navigation). MEDLINE, OVID, and Springer databases were used for the literature search covering the period from January 1950 until May 2010.
26 prospective clinical studies were eventually included in the analysis. These studies included in total 1,105 patients in which 6,617 screws were inserted. In the studies using free-hand technique, the percentage of the screws fully contained in the pedicle ranged from 69 to 94%, with the aid of fluoroscopy from 28 to 85%, using CT navigation from 89 to 100% and using fluoroscopy-based navigation from 81 to 92%. The screws positioned with free-hand technique tended to perforate the cortex medially, whereas the screws placed with CT navigation guidance seemed to perforate more often laterally.
In conclusion, navigation does indeed exhibit higher accuracy and increased safety in pedicle screw placement than free-hand technique and use of fluoroscopy.
PMCID: PMC3265579  PMID: 21901328
Pedicle screw; Free hand; Fluoroscopy; Fluoro-based; Computed tomography; Navigation
18.  Factors affecting the accurate placement of percutaneous pedicle screws during minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(10):1635-1643.
We retrospectively evaluated 488 percutaneous pedicle screws in 110 consecutive patients that had undergone minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF) to determine the incidence of pedicle screw misplacement and its relevant risk factors. Screw placements were classified based on postoperative computed tomographic findings as “correct”, “cortical encroachment” or as “frank penetration”. Age, gender, body mass index, bone mineral density, diagnosis, operation time, estimated blood loss (EBL), level of fusion, surgeon’s position, spinal alignment, quality/quantity of multifidus muscle, and depth to screw entry point were considered to be demographic and anatomical variables capable of affecting pedicle screw placement. Pedicle dimensions, facet joint arthritis, screw location (ipsilateral or contralateral), screw length, screw diameter, and screw trajectory angle were regarded as screw-related variables. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine relations between these variables and the correctness of screw placement. The incidence of cortical encroachment was 12.5% (61 screws), and frank penetration was found for 54 (11.1%) screws. Two patients (0.4%) with medial penetration underwent revision for unbearable radicular pain and foot drop, respectively. The odds ratios of significant risk factors for pedicle screw misplacement were 3.373 (95% CI 1.095–10.391) for obesity, 1.141 (95% CI 1.024–1.271) for pedicle convergent angle, 1.013 (95% CI 1.006–1.065) for EBL >400 cc, and 1.003 (95% CI 1.000–1.006) for cross-sectional area of multifidus muscle. Although percutaneous insertion of pedicle screws was performed safely during MITLIF, several risk factors should be considered to improve placement accuracy.
PMCID: PMC3175862  PMID: 21720727
Risk factor; Percutaneous; Pedicle screw; Minimally invasive; TLIF
19.  Comparison of two novel fluoroscopy-based stereotactic methods for cervical pedicle screw placement and review of the literature 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(4):564-575.
This experimental study was designed to compare two different fluoroscopy-based stereotactic surgical techniques for transcutaneous cervical pedicle screw (CPS) placement in the subaxial human cervical spine: (1) a custom-made aiming frame (AF) in combination with conventional fluoroscopy versus (2) a targeting device in combination with a computer-assisted image guidance system [i.e. virtual fluoroscopy (VF)]. Surgery was carried out on six preserved human total body specimens in a laboratory setting. Sixty pedicles (levels C3–C7) were measured in a multislice computed tomography (CT) image data set prior to surgery. Two groups consisting of three specimens and 30 pedicles each were defined according to the surgical technique. The AF consisted of radiolucent components with a fully adjustable arm for carrying the instruments necessary for placing the screws. The arm was angled according to the cervical pedicle axis, as determined by the preoperative CT scans and intraoperative lateral fluoroscopy. For VF, a targeting device was combined with a computer-assisted image-guided surgery unit. For both stereotactic techniques, 3.5 mm screws made of carbon fibre polyetheretherketone (ECF-PEEK) were inserted transcutaneously through stab incisions. Screw placement was assessed using a four-point grading system ranging from ideal (I) to unacceptable (III) where I = screw centred in pedicle, IIa = perforation of pedicle wall is less than one-fourth of the screw diameter, IIb = perforation of the pedicle wall is more than one-fourth of the screw diameter without contact to neurovascular structures, and III = CPS in contact with neurovascular structures. Fifty-eight pedicle screws could be evaluated without interfering metal artefacts according to the same CT protocol that was used preoperatively. The AF technique achieved a significantly smaller number of screws in contact with neurovascular structures compared with the VF technique (P = 0.021; Fisher’s exact test) (Grade I n = 15; 64.3% AF vs. n = 13; 43.3% VF and Grade III n = 2; 7.1% AF vs. n = 10; 33.3% VF). Although neither of the two techniques was capable of completely preventing CPS perforations, transcutaneous CPS placement with a conventional fluoroscopy-based stereotactic AF can be considered a less expensive alternative to VF. This AF technique is able to reduce the number and severity of lateral pedicle wall violations compared to screw placement via the wide standard posterior open midline approach to the subaxial cervical spine. The results of this study are discussed in context with those obtained from different published modifications, since the first technical description of this surgical technique in 1994 by Abumi and co-workers.
PMCID: PMC2295280  PMID: 18210169
Cervical spine; Morphometry; Cervical pedicle screws; Frame-based stereotaxis; Computer-assisted fluoroscopic navigation
20.  Tracked Ultrasound Snapshots in Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Placement Navigation: A Feasibility Study 
Computerized navigation improves the accuracy of minimally invasive pedicle screw placement during spine surgery. Such navigation, however, exposes both the patient and the staff to radiation during surgery. To avoid intraoperative exposure to radiation, tracked ultrasound snapshots—ultrasound image frames coupled with corresponding spatial positions—could be used to map preoperatively defined screw plans into the intraoperative coordinate frame. The feasibility of such an approach, however, has not yet been investigated.
Are there vertebral landmarks that can be identified using tracked ultrasound snapshots? Can tracked ultrasound snapshots allow preoperative pedicle screw plans to be accurately mapped—compared with CT-derived pedicle screw plans—into the intraoperative coordinate frame in a simulated setting?
Ultrasound visibility of registration landmarks was checked on volunteers and phantoms. An ultrasound machine with integrated electromagnetic tracking was used for tracked ultrasound acquisition. Registration was performed using 3D Slicer open-source software ( Two artificial lumbar spine phantoms were used to evaluate registration accuracy of pedicle screw plans using tracked ultrasound snapshots. Registration accuracy was determined by comparing the ultrasound-derived plans with the CT-derived plans.
The four articular processes proved to be identifiable using tracked ultrasound snapshots. Pedicle screw plans were registered to the intraoperative coordinate system using landmarks. The registrations were sufficiently accurate in that none of the registered screw plans intersected the pedicle walls. Registered screw plan positions had an error less than 1.28 ± 1.37 mm (average ± SD) in each direction and an angle difference less than 1.92° ± 1.95° around each axis relative to the CT-derived positions.
Registration landmarks could be located using tracked ultrasound snapshots and permitted accurate mapping of pedicle screw plans to the intraoperative coordinate frame in a simulated setting.
Clinical Relevance
Tracked ultrasound may allow accurate computer-navigated pedicle screw placement while avoiding ionizing radiation in the operating room; however, further studies that compare this approach with other navigation techniques are needed to confirm the practical use of this new approach.
PMCID: PMC3825922  PMID: 23955194
21.  Computer-navigated Iliosacral Screw Insertion Reduces Malposition Rate and Radiation Exposure 
Insertion of percutaneous iliosacral screws with fluoroscopic guidance is associated with a relatively high screw malposition rate and long radiation exposure. We asked whether radiation exposure was reduced and screw position improved in patients having percutaneous iliosacral screw insertion using computer-assisted navigation compared with patients having conventional fluoroscopic screw placement. We inserted 26 screws in 24 patients using the navigation system and 35 screws in 32 patients using the conventional fluoroscopic technique. Two subgroups were analyzed, one in which only one iliosacral screw was placed and another with additional use of an external fixator. We determined screw positions by computed tomography and compared operation time, radiation exposure, and screw position. We observed no difference in operative times. Radiation exposure was reduced for the patients and operating room personnel with computer assistance. The postoperative computed tomography scan showed better screw position and fewer malpositioned screws in the three-dimensional navigated groups. Computer navigation reduced malposition rate and radiation exposure.
Level of Evidence: Level II, therapeutic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC2690740  PMID: 19034594
22.  Role of intraoperative Iso-C based navigation in challenging spine trauma 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2007;41(4):312-317.
Pedicle screw fixation is the most preferred method of stabilizing unstable spinal fractures. Pedicle screw placement may be difficult in presence of fractured posterior elements, deformed spine, gross instability and spinal pathology. Challenging spine-fracture fixation is defined as the presence of one or more of the following: 1) obscured topographical landmarks as in ankylosing spondylitis, 2) fractures in occipitocervical or cervicothoracic regions and 3) preexisting altered spinal alignment. We report a series of pedicle screw insertion with guidance of navigation in difficult fixation problems..
Materials and Methods:
Fourteen patients [hangman's fracture (n=3), odontoid fracture (n=4), C1C2 fracture (n=1) and spinal fracture with coexistent ankylosing spondylitis (n=6)] underwent posterior stabilization. Intraoperatively after surgical exposure, images were acquired by Iso-C 3D C-arm and transferred to navigation system. Instrumentation was performed with navigational assistance. Postoperatively, placements of pedicle screws were evaluated with radiographs and CT scan.
Sixty-seven pedicle screws (cervical, n=33; thoracic, n=6; lumbar, n=26; sacral n=2) and 15 lateral mass screws were inserted with navigation guidance. The average time of image data acquisition by Iso-C 3D C-arm and its transfer to workstation was 4 minutes (range, 2-6 minutes). Postoperative CT scan revealed ideal placement of screws in 63 pedicles (94%), grade 1 cortical breaches (<2 mm) in 3 pedicles (4.5%) and grade 2 cortical breach (2-4 mm) in one pedicle (1.5%). There were no neurovascular complications. Deep infection was encountered in one case, which settled with debridement.
Intraoperative Iso-C 3D C-arm based navigation is a useful adjunct while stabilizing challenging spinal trauma, rendering feasibility, accuracy and safety of pedicle screw placement even in difficult situations.
PMCID: PMC2989511  PMID: 21139784
Computer-assisted surgery; neuronavigation; pedicle screw; spine fracture; challenging spinal trauma
23.  Computer-assisted screw insertion into the first sacral vertebra using a three-dimensional image intensifier: results of a controlled experimental investigation 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(6):757-763.
Currently there are few data available regarding the application and efficacy of computer-assisted procedures in the sacral spine. In order to optimize and standardize this procedure, a controlled experimental investigation has been performed. The aim of the study is to systematically assess the efficacy of a novel three-dimensional image intensifier used for navigated transiliac screw insertion into the first sacral vertebra. Screws were inserted iliosacrally into the first sacral vertebra of preserved human cadaver specimens. The instrument navigated procedure was performed with the “Siremobil Iso-C3D ” (Siemens Medical Solutions) and the “Navigation System” by Stryker. The accuracy and quality of the imaging procedure as well as the fluoroscopic exposure times were measured. These results were compared to three control groups (CT-based navigation, C-arm navigation, and fluoroscopic guidance). In each group a total amount of 20 screws was implanted. Screw position was postoperatively assessed by Iso-C3D or CT-scan. The navigated procedure using the Iso-C3D provided good feasibility characteristics without requiring a specific matching process. It revealed the shortest procedure time of all navigated procedures and significantly decreased fluoroscopic time compared to C-arm navigation and fluoroscopic guidance. Furthermore, Iso-C3D navigation showed no screw malposition and was in this regard superior to C-arm navigated and fluoroscopic guided procedures. The quality of imaging was sufficient for accurate placement, but did not share the high-resolution level of CT-based navigation. These findings indicate that application of the Iso-C3D for navigated transiliac screw insertion into S1 can be recommended as a feasible and safe technique, enabling the surgeon to reduce procedure and fluoroscopic time. Further progress in improving the quality of the Iso-C3D image should be attempted.
PMCID: PMC3489440  PMID: 16010599
Computer-assisted surgery; Three-dimensional image intensifier; Spine; Sacral vertebra; Transiliac screw insertion
24.  Percutaneous instrumentation of the cervical and cervico-thoracic spine using pedicle screws: preliminary clinical results and analysis of accuracy 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(6):977-985.
The pedicle screw instrumentation represents the most rigid construct of the cervical and cervicothoracic spine and in spite of the risks to neurovascular structures clinical relevant complications do not occur frequently. The steep angles of the cervical pedicles result in a wide surgical exposure with extensive muscular trauma. The objective of this study was the evaluation of the accuracy of cervical pedicle screw insertion through a minimally invasive technique to reduce access-related muscular trauma. Therefore, percutaneous transpedicular instrumentation of the cervical and cervicothoracic spine was performed in 15 patients using fluoroscopy. All instrumentations from C2 to Th4 were inserted bilaterally through 2 to 3-cm skin and fascia incisions even in multilevel procedures and the rods were placed by blunt insertion through the incision. Thin-cut CT scan was used postoperatively to analyze pedicle violations. 76.4% of 72 screws were placed accurately. Most pedicle perforations were seen laterally towards the vertebral artery. Critical breaches >2 mm or narrowing of the transversal foramen occurred in 12.5% of screws; however, no revision surgery for screw displacement was needed in the absence of clinical symptoms. No conversion from percutaneous to open surgery was necessary. It was concluded that percutaneous transpedicular instrumentation of the cervical spine is a surgically demanding technique and should be reserved for experienced spine surgeons. The indications are limited to instrumentation-only procedures or in combination with anterior treatment, but with the potential to minimize access-related morbidity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1775-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3099152  PMID: 21465291
CPS; Percutaneous; Cervical; Instrumentation; Fluoroscopy; Minimally invasive
25.  Pedicle screw insertion: computed tomography versus fluoroscopic image guidance 
International Orthopaedics  2007;32(4):517-521.
Computed tomography image-guided surgery (CTGS) clearly improves the accuracy of pedicle screw insertion. Recent reports claim that a fluoroscopy-guided system (FGS) offered high accuracy and easy application. However, the superiority of either technique remains unclear in clinical application. This study compares the accuracy of pedicle screws installed using CTGS with that of screws installed using FGS. Seventy-four screws inserted using FGS in 13 patients and 76 screws inserted using CTGS in 11 patients were compared. The study population included ten cases of vertebral fracture, five cases of degenerative spondylolisthesis, three cases of spondylolytic spondylolisthesis, two cases of tuberculous spondylitis, two cases of failed earlier back surgery and two case of ankylosing spondylitis with pseudarthrosis. The installed vertebral levels ranged from T8 to S1. Screw positions were assessed with postoperative radiographs and computed tomography. Sixty-nine (93.2%) screws were correctly placed in the FGS group, and seventy-three (96.1%) screws were correctly placed in the CTGS group (P = 0.491). The results indicated that both image-guided systems offer high accuracy. However, the fluoroscope image-guided system could be considered the primary tool for lower thoracic and lumbosacral pedicle placement because it enables real-time navigation and does not require a preoperative CT scan.
PMCID: PMC2532270  PMID: 17410363

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