Accurate insertion of C-2 cervical screws is imperative; however, the procedures for C-2 screw insertion are technically demanding and challenging, especially in cases of C-2 vertebral abnormality. The purpose of this study is to report the effectiveness of the tailor-made screw guide template (SGT) system for placement of C-2 screws, including in cases with abnormalities.
Twenty-three patients who underwent posterior spinal fusion surgery with C-2 cervical screw insertion using the SGT system were included. The preoperative bone image on CT was analyzed using multiplanar imaging software. The trajectory and depth of the screws were designed based on these images, and transparent templates with screw guiding cylinders were created for each lamina. During the operation, after templates were engaged directly to the laminae, drilling, tapping, and screwing were performed through the templates. The authors placed 26 pedicle screws, 12 pars screws, 6 laminar screws, and 4 C1–2 transarticular screws using the SGT system. To assess the accuracy of the screw track under this system, the deviation of the screw axis from the preplanned trajectory was evaluated on postoperative CT and was classified as follows: Class 1 (accurate), a screw axis deviation less than 2 mm from the planned trajectory; Class 2 (inaccurate), 2 mm or more but less than 4 mm; and Class 3 (deviated), 4 mm or more. In addition, to assess the safety of the screw insertion, malpositioning of the screws was also evaluated using the following grading system: Grade 0 (containing), a screw is completely within the wall of the bone structure; Grade 1 (exposure), a screw perforates the wall of the bone structure but more than 50% of the screw diameter remains within the bone; Grade 2 (perforation), a screw perforates the bone structures and more than 50% of the screw diameter is outside the pedicle; and Grade 3 (penetration), a screw perforates completely outside the bone structure.
In total, 47 (97.9%) of 48 screws were classified into Class 1 and Grade 0, whereas 1 laminar screw was classified as Class 3 and Grade 2. Mean screw deviations were 0.36 mm in the axial plane (range 0.0–3.8 mm) and 0.30 mm in the sagittal plane (range 0.0–0.8 mm).
This study demonstrates that the SGT system provided extremely accurate C-2 cervical screw insertion without configuration of reference points, high-dose radiation from intraoperative 3D navigation, or any registration or probing error evoked by changes in spinal alignment during surgery. A multistep screw placement technique and reliable screw guide cylinders were the key to accurate screw placement using the SGT system.