Concerns remain over the influence of pedicle screw instrumentation on the growth potential of an immature spine. Previous studies have reported discrepancies between animal experiments and clinical studies. The authors’ objective was to explore the influence of pedicle screw instrumentation on the growth of an immature spine at a very young age.
Individuals who met the authors’ criteria were included. Anteroposterior diameter of the vertebral body; pedicle length on both sides; and anteroposterior diameter, transverse diameter, and area of the spinal canal were measured on CT images before surgery and at the final follow-up. Parameters of instrumented vertebrae and adjacent noninstrumented vertebrae were compared. The growth value and growth percentage of each parameter were calculated. Subgroup comparisons were made in thoracic vertebrae and lumbar vertebrae. Statistical analyses were performed.
Thirteen patients with a congenital spinal deformity were included in the study. The average age at surgery was 3.4 (range 2–5) years, and the average follow-up was 7.2 (range 5–11) years. Osteotomy and short instrumentation with pedicle screws were performed in each case. A total of 69 segments were measured, including 43 instrumented vertebrae and 26 immediately adjacent noninstrumented vertebrae. Significant increases in all parameters were noted at the final follow-up. In instrumented vertebrae, growth of the pedicle length and the anteroposterior diameter and area of the spinal canal increased significantly, while growth of the anteroposterior diameter of the vertebral body decreased significantly compared with noninstrumented vertebrae. Similar results were noted in the lumbar region. The shape-change phenomenon was found in noninstrumented vertebrae but was not apparent in instrumented vertebrae.
Pedicle screw instrumentation may slow down growth of the vertebral body, indirectly speed up growth of the spinal canal, and hinder the shape-change phenomenon of the lumbar spinal canal. However, the influences were quite slight, and significant development did occur in instrumented vertebrae. Therefore, pedicle screw instrumentation may not have much effect on the growth of immature vertebrae in children younger than 5 years.
ABBREVIATIONSAP = anteroposterior; NCS = neurocentral synchondrosis; PSI = pedicle screw instrumentation; SC = spinal canal; SCAP = AP diameter of the SC; SCT = transverse diameter of the SC; VB = vertebral body; VBAP = AP diameter of the VB.
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