Object. The authors introduce a unique computer-assisted cervical pedicle screw (CPS) insertion technique used in conjunction with specially modified original pedicle screw insertion instruments. The accuracy of screw placement as well as surgery-related outcome and complication rates were compared between two groups of patients: those in whom a computer-assisted and those in whom a conventional manual insertion technique was used.
Methods. The screw insertion guiding system consisted of a modified awl, probe, tap and a screwdriver specially designed for a computer-assisted CPS insertion. Using this system, real-time instrument/screw tip information was three dimensionally identified in each step of screw insertion. Seventeen patients underwent CPS fixation in which a computer-assisted surgical navigation system was used. The cervical disorders consisted of spondylotic myelopathy with segmental instability or kyphosis, metastatic spinal tumor, rheumatoid spine, and postlaminectomy kyphosis. The rate of pedicle wall perforation was significantly lower in the computer-assisted group than that in the other group (1.2 and 6.7%, respectively; p < 0.05). The screw trajectory in the horizontal plane was significantly closer to the anatomical pedicle axis in the computer-assisted group compared with the manual insertion group (p < 0.05). This factor significantly reduced the incidence of screw perforation laterally. Complications such as neural damage or vascular injury were not demonstrated in the computer-assisted group (compared with 2% in the manual insertion treatment group). The overall surgery-related outcome was satisfactory.
Conclusions. In contrast to the previously reported computer-assisted technique, our CPS insertion technique provides real-time three-dimensional instrument/screw tip information. This serves as a powerful tool for safe and accurate pedicle screw placement in the cervical spine.