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Eitan M. Kohan, Venu M. Nemani, Stuart Hershman, Daniel G. Kang and Michael P. Kelly

OBJECTIVE

The authors examined the correlation between lumbar spine CT Hounsfield unit (HU) measurements and bone mineral density measurements in an adult spinal deformity (ASD) population.

METHODS

Patients with ASD were identified in the records of a single institution. Lumbar CT scans were reviewed, and the mean HU measurements from L1–4 were recorded. Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed using femoral neck and lumbar spine dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The number of patients who met criteria for osteoporosis was determined for each imaging modality.

RESULTS

Forty-eight patients underwent both preoperative DEXA and CT scanning. Forty-three patients were female and 5 were male. Forty-seven patients were Caucasian and one was African American. The mean age of the patients was 62.1 years. Femoral neck DEXA was more likely to identify osteopenia (n = 26) than lumbar spine DEXA (n = 8) or lumbar CT HU measurements (n = 6) (p < 0.001). There was a low-moderate correlation between lumbar spine CT and lumbar spine DEXA (r = 0.463, p < 0.001), and there was poor correlation between lumbar spine CT and femoral neck DEXA (r = 0.303, p = 0.036).

CONCLUSIONS

Despite the opportunistic utility of lumbar spine CT HU measurements in identifying osteoporosis in patients undergoing single-level fusion, these measurements were not useful in this cohort of ASD patients. The correlation between femoral neck DEXA and HU measurements was poor. DEXA assessment of BMD in ASD patients is essential to optimize the care of these complicated cases.

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Melvin D. Helgeson, Ronald A. Lehman Jr., Anton E. Dmitriev, Daniel G. Kang, Rick C. Sasso, Chadi Tannoury and K. Daniel Riew

Object

Intraoperative imaging often does not provide adequate visualization to ensure safe placement of screws. Therefore, the authors investigated the accuracy of a freehand technique for placement of pars, pedicle, and intralaminar screws in C-2.

Methods

Sixteen cadaveric specimens were instrumented freehand by 2 experienced cervical spine surgeons with either a pars or pedicle screw, and bilateral intralaminar screws. The technique was based on anatomical starting points and published screw trajectories. A pedicle finder was used to establish the trajectory, followed by tapping, palpation, and screw placement. After placement of all screws (16 pars screws, 16 pedicle screws, and 32 intralaminar screws), the C-2 segments were disarticulated, radiographed in anteroposterior, lateral, and axial planes, and meticulously inspected by another spine surgeon to determine the nature and presence of any defects.

Results

A total of 64 screws were evaluated in this study. Pars screws exhibited 2 critical defects (1 in the foramen transversarium and 1 in the C2–3 facet) and an insignificant dorsal cortex breech, for an overall accuracy rate of 81.3%. Pedicle screws demonstrated only 1 insignificant violation (inferior facet/medial cortex intrusion of 1 mm) with an accuracy rate of 93.8%, and intralaminar screws demonstrated 3 insignificant violations (2 in the ventral canal, 1 in the caudad lamina breech) for an accuracy rate of 90.6%. Pars screws had significantly more critical violations than intralaminar screws (p = 0.041).

Conclusions

Instrumentation of the C-2 vertebrae using the freehand technique for insertion of pedicle and intralaminar screws showed a high success rate with no critical violations. Pars screw insertion was not as reliable, with 2 critical violations from a total of 16 placements. The freehand technique appears to be a safe and reliable method for insertion of C-2 pedicle and intralaminar screws.