Acute failure of S2-alar-iliac screw pelvic fixation in adult spinal deformity: novel failure mechanism, case series, and review of the literature

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  • 1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Minnesota; and
  • | 2 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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OBJECTIVE

Pelvic fixation with S2-alar-iliac (S2AI) screws is an established technique in adult deformity surgery. The authors’ objective was to report the incidence and risk factors for an underreported acute failure mechanism of S2AI screws.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed a consecutive series of ambulatory adults with fusions extending 3 or more levels, and which included S2AI screws. Acute failure of S2AI screws was defined as occurring within 6 months of the index surgery and requiring surgical revision.

RESULTS

Failure occurred in 6 of 125 patients (5%) and consisted of either slippage of the rods or displacement of the set screws from the S2AI tulip head, with resultant kyphotic fracture. All failures occurred within 6 weeks postoperatively. Revision with a minimum of 4 rods connecting to 4 pelvic fixation points was successful. Two of 3 (66%) patients whose revision had less fixation sustained a second failure. Patients who experienced failure were younger (56.5 years vs 65 years, p = 0.03). The magnitude of surgical correction was higher in the failure cohort (number of levels fused, change in lumbar lordosis, change in T1–pelvic angle, and change in coronal C7 vertical axis, each p < 0.05). In the multivariate analysis, younger patient age and change in lumbar lordosis were independently associated with increased failure risk (p < 0.05 for each). There was a trend toward the presence of a transitional S1–2 disc being a risk factor (OR 8.8, 95% CI 0.93–82.6). Failure incidence was the same across implant manufacturers (p = 0.3).

CONCLUSIONS

All failures involved large-magnitude correction and resulted from stresses that exceeded the failure loads of the set plugs in the S2AI tulip, with resultant rod displacement and kyphotic fractures. Patients with large corrections may benefit from 4 total S2AI screws at the time of the index surgery, particularly if a transitional segment is present. Salvage with a minimum of 4 rods and 4 pelvic fixation points can be successful.

ABBREVIATIONS

S2AI = S2-alar-iliac.

Supplementary Materials

    • Appendix (PDF 4,295 KB)

Illustrations from Hubbe et al. (pp 160–163). Copyright Ioannis Vasilikos and Roberto Ferrarese. Published with permission.

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