The goal of this study was to compare the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement aided by two different image-guidance modalities.
The charts of 40 consecutive patients who had undergone stabilization of the thoracic spine between January 2003 and January 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. Three patients were excluded from the study because, on the basis of preoperative findings, small pedicle diameter precluded the use of pedicle screws. Thus, a total of 37 patients had 277 screws placed with the aid of either virtual fluoroscopy or isocentric C-arm 3D navigation. The indications for surgery included trauma, degenerative disease, and tumor, and were similar in both groups. All 37 patients underwent postoperative computed tomography scanning, and an independent reviewer graded all screws based on axial, sagittal, and coronal projections for a full determination of the placement of the screw in the pedicle.
The rate of unintended perforations was found to depend on pedicle diameter (p < 0.0001). There were no statistical differences between groups with regard to rate or grade of cortical perforations. Overall, the rate and grade of perforations was low, and there were no neurological or vascular complications.
The authors have shown that either image-guidance system may be used with a high degree of accuracy and safety. Because both systems were found to be comparably safe and accurate, the choice of image-guidance modality may be determined by the level of surgeon comfort and/or availability of the system.