Freehand thoracic pedicle screw technique using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels: preliminary clinical experience

Clinical article

Full access

Object

Experience with freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement is well described in the literature. Published techniques rely on various starting points and trajectories for each level or segment of the thoracic spine. Furthermore, few studies provide specific guidance on sagittal and axial trajectories. The goal of this study was to propose a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all thoracic levels during freehand pedicle screw placement and determine the accuracy of this technique.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed postoperative CT scans of 33 consecutive patients who underwent open, freehand thoracic pedicle-screw fixation using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels. The same entry point for each level was defined as a point 3 mm caudal to the junction of the transverse process and the lateral margin of the superior articulating process, and the sagittal trajectory was always orthogonal to the dorsal curvature of the spine at that level. The medial angulation (axial trajectory) was approximately 30° at T-1 and T-2, and 20° from T-3 to T-12. Breach was defined as greater than 25% of the screw diameter residing outside of the pedicle or vertebral body.

Results

A total of 219 thoracic pedicle screws were placed with a 96% accuracy rate. There were no medial breaches and 9 minor lateral breaches (4.1%). None of the screws had to be repositioned postoperatively, and there were no neurovascular complications associated with the breaches.

Conclusions

It is feasible to place freehand thoracic pedicle screws using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels. The entry point does not have to be adjusted for each level as reported in existing studies, although this technique was not tested in severe scoliotic spines. While other techniques are effective and widely used, this particular method provides more specific parameters and may be easier to learn, teach, and adopt.

Abstract

Object

Experience with freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement is well described in the literature. Published techniques rely on various starting points and trajectories for each level or segment of the thoracic spine. Furthermore, few studies provide specific guidance on sagittal and axial trajectories. The goal of this study was to propose a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all thoracic levels during freehand pedicle screw placement and determine the accuracy of this technique.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed postoperative CT scans of 33 consecutive patients who underwent open, freehand thoracic pedicle-screw fixation using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels. The same entry point for each level was defined as a point 3 mm caudal to the junction of the transverse process and the lateral margin of the superior articulating process, and the sagittal trajectory was always orthogonal to the dorsal curvature of the spine at that level. The medial angulation (axial trajectory) was approximately 30° at T-1 and T-2, and 20° from T-3 to T-12. Breach was defined as greater than 25% of the screw diameter residing outside of the pedicle or vertebral body.

Results

A total of 219 thoracic pedicle screws were placed with a 96% accuracy rate. There were no medial breaches and 9 minor lateral breaches (4.1%). None of the screws had to be repositioned postoperatively, and there were no neurovascular complications associated with the breaches.

Conclusions

It is feasible to place freehand thoracic pedicle screws using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels. The entry point does not have to be adjusted for each level as reported in existing studies, although this technique was not tested in severe scoliotic spines. While other techniques are effective and widely used, this particular method provides more specific parameters and may be easier to learn, teach, and adopt.

Pedicle screw fixation has become the prevailing modality for thoracic spinal stabilization.18,23,24,26,30,32,36,37 Several techniques have been used to increase the ease and accuracy of pedicle screw placement, including the use of intraoperative fluoroscopy, intraoperative CT, and image-assisted navigation.1,3,5,8,39 Radiation exposure and its deleterious effects, however, is a growing concern.28,37,39 A safe, reproducible, and reliable practice of freehand thoracic screw placement is ideal for reducing intraoperative radiation exposure, reducing the overall operative time, and streamlining the teaching process for surgical trainees.4,10,16,19,28,37

Existing techniques of freehand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine primarily focus on various entry points and medial angulation.10,16,20,22 Furthermore, no consistent methods to determine cranial-caudal trajectories are described. We believe that existing published techniques and “thoracic pedicle screw charts” may be cumbersome to adopt and teach given the variability of starting points and angulations. To the best of our knowledge, this preliminary study represents one of the few single-surgeon clinical experiences of thoracic pedicle screw placement using a freehand technique that employs a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all thoracic levels. In addition, very simple yet effective axial trajectories are proposed.

Methods

We retrospectively reviewed the postoperative CT scans of 33 consecutive patients undergoing open thoracic pedicle screw placement. All cases were performed by the senior author (A.A.B.) and all involved neurosurgical residents assisting with pedicle screw placement under direct supervision. Pedicle screws were placed using a uniform entry point of 3 mm caudal to the junction of the lateral margin of the superior articulating process and transverse process (Fig. 1). The sagittal trajectory was orthogonal to the curvature of the dorsal spine at that level, which allows a “straight-forward” trajectory of pedicle screw insertion.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Illustration demonstrating the uniform entry point, which is always 3 mm caudal to the junction of the lateral margin of the superior articulating process and the transverse process.

After exposure, a high-speed electric drill is used to disrupt the cortical bone at the entry point described above. A sharp, straight gearshift is used to cannulate the pedicle to the desired depth based on preoperative CT measurements. A ball-ended feeler is used to assess for breaches. The pedicle is then typically undertapped and an appropriate size screw is placed. Markers are not used, and we believe that the often-used practice of initial cannulation to 10–15 mm followed by probing and then completing the cannulation is unnecessary and increases operative time.

Intraoperative fluoroscopy is used for initial localization, and then again for a final anteroposterior and lateral radiograph. Postoperative CT scans were obtained in all patients after thoracic pedicle screw instrumentation. In this study, we retrospectively measured the average medial angulation of all screws that had an acceptable gantry. Computed tomography scans were independently reviewed for breaches by 2 resident physicians (V.S.F. and S.P.), and breach was defined as > 25% of the screw lying outside of the pedicle.

Results

Two hundred nineteen consecutive screws were evaluated and no screws were excluded. Screws were placed for a variety of spinal pathology: 61% for trauma, 12% for infection, 18% for tumor, and 9% for deformity (Fig. 2). The screw distribution was as follows: 23 screws (10.5%) at T-1, 27 (12.3%) at T-2, 11 (5%) at T-3, 13 (5.9%) at T-4, 10 (4.6%) at T-5, 8 (3.7%) at T-6, 15 (6.8%) at T-7, 23 (10.5%) at T-8, 23 at T-9 (10.5%), 25 (11.4%) at T-10, 19 (8.7%) at T-11, and 22 (10%) at T-12 (Fig. 3). There were 9 total lateral breaches (4.1%; Fig. 4) and no medial breaches. There was no evidence of suprapedicular or infrapedicular breaches. There were no neurovascular-or hardware-related complications, and no instrumentation had to be revised. Medial angulation was measured postoperatively and was, on average, 30° at T-1 and T-2 and 20° from T-3 to T-12 (Fig. 5).

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Distribution of cases with freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement according to spinal pathology.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Distribution of the number of screws placed at each thoracic level.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Example of a lateral breach in which more than 25% of the pedicle screw is outside the pedicle.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

Axial CT scans demonstrating the mean axial trajectory of a T-2 screw (left) and the mean axial trajectory of a T-12 screw (right).

Discussion

Pedicle screw stabilization is now the preferred modality of fixation for thoracolumbar pathologies such as degenerative spine disease, tumor, trauma, and deformity.21,25,32 Pedicle screw placement, however, can be challenging, particularly in the thoracic spine.17,19,21,37 In this region, the pedicles are typically smaller and have more complex morphologies, thus increasing the risk of malpositioned screws.17,19,21,37 The clinical consequences of malpositioned screws can result in neurological, vascular, and visceral organ injuries.17,19,21,37

To aid with successful placement of thoracic pedicle screws, intraoperative fluoroscopy and stereotacticguided techniques have gained popularity.1,6,11,15,38 These modalities have been associated with increased operative time and radiation exposure to both the patient and the surgeon.6,28 This radiation exposure is not without risk, especially for surgeons who perform numerous surgeries over the course of a career.6,28 The relative accuracy rates are comparable in fluoroscopically guided versus freehand thoracic pedicle screws.1,6,8,13,29,33,34 In a 2012 review by Gelalis et al., the authors reviewed prospective studies comparing the accuracy rates of freehand, fluoroscopic, and image-guided techniques.13 The review included 26 clinical studies, 1105 patients, and 6617 screws. Freehand and fluoroscopy-aided screws had accuracy rates of 69%–94% and 28%–85%, respectively, whereas CT- and fluoroscopy-based navigation showed accuracy rates of 89%–100% and 81%–92%, respectively. It was noted that perforated screws inserted using the freehand technique tended to be medial, as opposed to lateral with CT navigation.

Temporal limitations and increased radiation exposure associated with the use of intraoperative fluoroscopy and stereotactic navigation have placed an emphasis on the use of freehand techniques.27 Technical studies on the use of freehand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine are few and limited.4,7,19,20,25 Kim and Lenke had one of the first studies to describe the use of the freehand technique for thoracic pedicle screws.18 They described a stepwise procedure for the placement of thoracic pedicle screws, starting at the base of the superior articular facet.18 Modi et al. confirmed this entry point in their study of patients with scoliosis.25 These studies, however, rely almost exclusively on tactile feedback from a pedicle probe to guide both the medial-lateral and cephalad-caudad trajectories.4,7,18,20,25 Tactile feedback, however, can be prone to error.14,21 While the base of the superior articular facet is generally considered to be the best starting point for pedicle entry, the exact medial-lateral angles and cephalad-caudal trajectories remain subject to surgeon preference. Furthermore, many suggest using the transverse process as an anatomical landmark for freehand placement, but McCormack et al. demonstrated that the transverse process is not as reliable in the thoracic spine relative to the lumbar spine.24 In addition, these studies had not provided reliable methods to determine the sagittal trajectories or quantitative medial angulations (Table 1). Another difference between these original studies and our technique is that we do not use a curved probe that necessitates partial cannulation, and then recannulation after the probe is turned 180°. Although effective, this technique slightly lengthens operative time and is not necessary when a more lateral entry point is chosen.

TABLE 1:

Studies of freehand thoracic screw techniques

Authors & YearFreehand Thoracic ScrewsComments
StrengthsWeaknesses
Fennell et al. (current study)219single surgeon experience, specific & uniform entry point, sagittal & axial trajectories well defined, low breach ratesmall series, not tested yet in scoliosis
Parker et al., 20113443large series, low breach ratescomplex triangular entry point, sagittal trajectory based on suboptimally visualized endplate, no axial trajectory guidelines
Samdani et al., 2010856large series, specific pathology (adolescent idiopathic scoliosis)no technique specifics provided
Cui et al., 2012404large series, specific pathology (scoliosis)no technique specifics
Modi et al., 2009482large series, defined pathology (scoliosis), defined entry pointno guidelines for sagittal or axial trajectories
Beck et al., 2009194defined entry pointno guidelines for sagittal or axial trajectories
Karapinar et al., 2008297defined entry pointthoracic screws T10–12 only, no objective sagittal or medial trajectories provided
Upendra et al., 2008314compared scoliotic to nonscoliotic spinesno specifics on technique of entry point, sagittal or medial trajectories
Kim et al., 20043204large series, both scoliosis & kyphosis casesentry point varied by level, no sagittal or axial trajectories provided
Belmont et al., 2001279entry point & axial trajectories definedno sagittal trajectories defined

Parker et al. recently published one of the largest series of freehand pedicle screw cases.27 With an impressive number of pedicle screws placed and very low breach rates, the authors concluded that in large volume centers, the freehand technique is safe and effective.9,12,27,33,34 We wholeheartedly agree with that conclusion, and our current study offers a slightly different, but equally effective, approach. We have defined a specific entry point that is uniform throughout the thoracic spine and does not rely on visualization of a complex triangular relationship; it only relies on the junction of the lateral margin of the superior articulating facet and the transverse process. Furthermore, this current study offers simple but specific quantitative medial angulation parameters that complement a surgeon's preference and/or bias. Although the overall breach rate was very low, approximately one-third of all breaches were medial in the Parker et al. study, with 2 cases resulting in significant postoperative lowerextremity motor weakness.27 Our entry point, which is inherently lateral, may diminish the chance of a medial breach. Our sagittal plane technique relies on pedicle cannulation that is orthogonal to the curvature of the dorsal spine at that level, which is easier to visualize intraoperatively than the superior endplate of the corresponding vertebral body (Fig. 6); this is particularly effective with kyphotic plane deformities. Lastly, pedicle markers are not used in the presented technique, obviating the need for yet an additional lateral radiograph and a minor increase in operative time. Instead, we rely on the final anteroposterior and lateral radiographs and we have rarely had to remove or reposition a screw intraoperatively after it has been placed. More commonly, a breach or errant trajectory is detected after cannulation but before screw placement.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement chart using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory with the appropriate axial trajectory angles. Copyright Ali A Baaj, M.D. Published with permission.

The present study offers our preliminary experience with a freehand thoracic pedicle-screw placement technique utilizing a uniform entry point and axial and sagittal trajectories. Some argue that, in the upper thoracic spine, the ideal entry point is typically more cranial. In our experience, the proposed entry point (3 mm caudal to the junction of the transverse process and lateral margin of the superior articulating process) is still effective in this region as long as a cranial-caudal orthogonal cannulation trajectory is used (Fig. 7). Choosing this seemingly caudal entry point obviates the need to adjust entry points in the lower thoracic spine (Fig. 8). There are certainly larger series in the literature and many of the existing techniques are effective and time tested. Our goal was to simplify and minimize variables while maintaining safety and effectiveness. Less variability can potentially make freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement techniques easier to teach and adopt. We have had initial success with this technique, but the efficacy of this approach in scoliotic spines and revision cases has yet to be determined.

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

Parasagittal CT scan of the upper thoracic spine region (T-4) demonstrating a traditional entry point and anatomical trajectory (dashed arrow) and a more caudal entry point with straightforward trajectory (solid arrow). Note that effective cannulation of the pedicle is possible, even at this level, with an inferior entry point.

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

Multiple CT scans and radiographs demonstrating the feasibility of using our proposed entry point and trajectory at various segments of the thoracic spine; note only thoracic screws from the constructs are highlighted. A: Lateral cervicothoracic radiograph (T-1 and T-2). B: Lateral cervicothoracic radiograph (T1–4). C: Lateral thoracic radiograph (T4–12). D: Sagittal thoracic CT scan (T8–10). E: Lateral thoracolumbar radiograph (T-9, T-10, and T-12). F: Sagittal 3D reconstructed cervicothoracic CT scan showing pedicle screws from T-1 to T-8.

As neurosurgeons play a bigger role in complex thoracic instrumentation and deformity cases, the need to acquire an effective and expeditious practice of freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement is imperative to completing these surgeries in a timely fashion. Furthermore, as our exposure to ionizing radiation has increased due to minimally invasive techniques, it is essential that we minimize the use of fluoroscopy in open cases.6,7,29,37

Conclusions

It is feasible to place freehand thoracic pedicle screws using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory for all levels. The entry point does not have to be adjusted for each level as reported in existing studies, although this technique was not tested in severe scoliotic spines. While other techniques are effective and widely employed, this particular method may be easier to learn, teach, and adopt.

Disclosure

Dr. Baaj has received honoraria from Depuy Synthes, Inc., and Ulrich, Inc., as well as royalties from Thieme Medical Publishers.

Author contributions to the study and manuscript preparation include the following. Conception and design: Baaj. Acquisition of data: Baaj, Fennell, Palejwala. Analysis and interpretation of data: Baaj, Palejwala, Skoch, Stidd. Drafting the article: all authors. Critically revising the article: all authors. Reviewed submitted version of manuscript: all authors. Approved the final version of the manuscript on behalf of all authors: Baaj. Administrative/technical/material support: Stidd. Study supervision: Baaj.

References

  • 1

    Amiot LPLang KPutzier MZippel HLabelle H: Comparative results between conventional and computer-assisted pedicle screw installation in the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 25:6066142000

  • 2

    Beck MMittlmeier TGierer PHarms CGradl G: Benefit and accuracy of intraoperative 3D-imaging after pedicle screw placement: a prospective study in stabilizing thoracolumbar fractures. Eur Spine J 18:146914772009

  • 3

    Belmont PJ JrKlemme WRDhawan APolly DW Jr: In vivo accuracy of thoracic pedicle screws. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 26:234023462001

  • 4

    Braga BPde Morais JVVilela MD: Free-hand placement of high thoracic pedicle screws with the aid of fluoroscopy: evaluation of positioning by CT scans in a four-year consecutive series. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 68:3903952010

  • 5

    Carbone JJTortolani PJQuartararo LG: Fluoroscopically assisted pedicle screw fixation for thoracic and thoracolumbar injuries: technique and short-term complications. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 28:91972003

  • 6

    Choi WWGreen BALevi AD: Computer-assisted fluoroscopic targeting system for pedicle screw insertion. Neurosurgery 47:8728782000

  • 7

    Chung KJSuh SWDesai SSong HR: Ideal entry point for the thoracic pedicle screw during the free hand technique. Int Orthop 32:6576622008

  • 8

    Cui GWang YKao THZhang YLiu ZLiu B: Application of intraoperative computed tomography with or without navigation system in surgical correction of spinal deformity: a preliminary result of 59 consecutive human cases. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 37:8919002012

  • 9

    El Fiki IMZaiton FAwadalla AM: Role of postoperative multislice computed tomography in assessment of pedicle screw placement in spinal surgical fixation. Egypt J Radiol Nucl Med 44:63702013

  • 10

    Elliott MJSlakey JB: Thoracic pedicle screw placement: analysis using anatomical landmarks without image guidance. J Pediatr Orthop 27:5825862007

  • 11

    Fu TSChen LHWong CBLai PLTsai TTNiu CC: Computer-assisted fluoroscopic navigation of pedicle screw insertion: an in vivo feasibility study. Acta Orthop Scand 75:7307352004

  • 12

    Gautschi OPSchatlo BSchaller KTessitore E: Clinically relevant complications related to pedicle screw placement in thoracolumbar surgery and their management: a literature review of 35,630 pedicle screws. Neurosurg Focus 31:4E82011

  • 13

    Gelalis IDPaschos NKPakos EEPolitis ANArnaoutoglou CMKarageorgos AC: Accuracy of pedicle screw placement: a systematic review of prospective in vivo studies comparing free hand, fluoroscopy guidance and navigation techniques. Eur Spine J 21:2472552012

  • 14

    Gertzbein SDRobbins SE: Accuracy of pedicular screw placement in vivo. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 15:11141990

  • 15

    Holly LTFoley KT: Three-dimensional fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous thoracolumbar pedicle screw placement. Technical note. J Neurosurg 99:3 Suppl3243292003

  • 16

    Hyun SJKim YJCheh GYoon SHRhim SC: Free hand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine without any radiographic guidance: technical note, a cadaveric study. J Korean Neurosurg Soc 51:66702012

  • 17

    Karapinar LErel NOzturk HAltay TKaya A: Pedicle screw placement with a free hand technique in thoracolumbar spine: is it safe?. J Spinal Disord Tech 21:63672008

  • 18

    Kim YJLenke LG: Thoracic pedicle screw placement: freehand technique. Neurol India 53:5125192005

  • 19

    Kim YJLenke LGBridwell KHCho YSRiew KD: Free hand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine: is it safe?. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 29:3333422004

  • 20

    Kim YWLenke LGKim YJBridwell KHKim YBWatanabe K: Free-hand pedicle screw placement during revision spinal surgery: analysis of 552 screws. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 33:114111482008

  • 21

    Kosmopoulos VSchizas C: Pedicle screw placement accuracy: a meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 32:E111E1202007

  • 22

    Lehman RA JrPolly DW JrKuklo TRCunningham BKirk KLBelmont PJ Jr: Straight-forward versus anatomic trajectory technique of thoracic pedicle screw fixation: a biomechanical analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 28:205820652003

  • 23

    Lifeso RMArabie KMKadhi SK: Fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Paraplegia 23:2072241985

  • 24

    McCormack BMBenzel ECAdams MSBaldwin NGRupp FWMaher DJ: Anatomy of the thoracic pedicle. Neurosurgery 37:3033081995

  • 25

    Modi HSuh SWSong HRYang JH: Accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement in scoliosis using the ideal pedicle entry point during the freehand technique. Int Orthop 33:4694752009

  • 26

    Moon MSChoi WTSun DHChae JWRyu JSChang H: Instrumented ligamentotaxis and stabilization of compression and burst fractures of dorsolumbar and mid-lumbar spines. Indian J Orthop 41:3463532007

  • 27

    Parker SLMcGirt MJFarber SHAmin AGRick AMSuk I: Accuracy of free-hand pedicle screws in the thoracic and lumbar spine: analysis of 6816 consecutive screws. Neurosurgery 68:1701782011

  • 28

    Rampersaud YRFoley KTShen ACWilliams SSolomito M: Radiation exposure to the spine surgeon during fluoroscopically assisted pedicle screw insertion. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 25:263726452000

  • 29

    Rampersaud YRLee KS: Fluoroscopic computer-assisted pedicle screw placement through a mature fusion mass: an assessment of 24 consecutive cases with independent analysis of computed tomography and clinical data. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 32:2172222007

  • 30

    Roy-Camille RSaillant GBerteaux DSalgado V: Osteosynthesis of thoraco-lumbar spine fractures with metal plates screwed through the vertebral pedicles. Reconstr Surg Traumatol 15:2161976

  • 31

    Samdani AFRanade ASciubba DMCahill PJAntonacci MDClements DH: Accuracy of free-hand placement of thoracic pedicle screws in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: how much of a difference does surgeon experience make?. Eur Spine J 19:91952010

  • 32

    Şarlak AYTosun BAtmaca HSarisoy HTBuluç L: Evaluation of thoracic pedicle screw placement in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Eur Spine J 18:189218972009

  • 33

    Sclafani JARegev GJWebb JGarfin SRKim CW: Use of a quantitative pedicle screw accuracy system to assess new technology: initial studies on O-arm navigation and its effect on the learning curve of percutaneous pedicle screw insertion. SAS J 5:57622011

  • 34

    Shin BJJames ARNjoku IUHärtl R: Pedicle screw navigation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of perforation risk for computer-navigated versus freehand insertion. A review. J Neurosurg Spine 17:1131222012

  • 35

    Upendra BNMeena DChowdhury BAhmad AJayaswal A: Outcome-based classification for assessment of thoracic pedicular screw placement. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 33:3843902008

  • 36

    Weinstein JNRydevik BLRauschning W: Anatomic and technical considerations of pedicle screw fixation. Clin Orthop Relat Res 28434461992

  • 37

    Weinstein JNSpratt KFSpengler DBrick CReid S: Spinal pedicle fixation: reliability and validity of roentgenogrambased assessment and surgical factors on successful screw placement. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 13:101210181988

  • 38

    Youkilis ASQuint DJMcGillicuddy JEPapadopoulos SM: Stereotactic navigation for placement of pedicle screws in the thoracic spine. Neurosurgery 48:7717792001

  • 39

    Zhang CWang ZZhang CChen FZhang HYan X: Spine Bull's-Eye Robot guidewire placement with pedicle standard axis view for thoracic and lumbar pedicle screw fixation. J Spinal Disord Tech 25:E191E1982012

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Ali A. Baaj, M.D., Division of Neurosurgery, University of Arizona Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave., P.O. Box 245070, Tucson, AZ 85724. email: abaaj@surgery.arizona.edu.

Please include this information when citing this paper: published online August 22, 2014; DOI: 10.3171/2014.7.SPINE1489.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

Headings

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Illustration demonstrating the uniform entry point, which is always 3 mm caudal to the junction of the lateral margin of the superior articulating process and the transverse process.

  • View in gallery

    Distribution of cases with freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement according to spinal pathology.

  • View in gallery

    Distribution of the number of screws placed at each thoracic level.

  • View in gallery

    Example of a lateral breach in which more than 25% of the pedicle screw is outside the pedicle.

  • View in gallery

    Axial CT scans demonstrating the mean axial trajectory of a T-2 screw (left) and the mean axial trajectory of a T-12 screw (right).

  • View in gallery

    Freehand thoracic pedicle screw placement chart using a uniform entry point and sagittal trajectory with the appropriate axial trajectory angles. Copyright Ali A Baaj, M.D. Published with permission.

  • View in gallery

    Parasagittal CT scan of the upper thoracic spine region (T-4) demonstrating a traditional entry point and anatomical trajectory (dashed arrow) and a more caudal entry point with straightforward trajectory (solid arrow). Note that effective cannulation of the pedicle is possible, even at this level, with an inferior entry point.

  • View in gallery

    Multiple CT scans and radiographs demonstrating the feasibility of using our proposed entry point and trajectory at various segments of the thoracic spine; note only thoracic screws from the constructs are highlighted. A: Lateral cervicothoracic radiograph (T-1 and T-2). B: Lateral cervicothoracic radiograph (T1–4). C: Lateral thoracic radiograph (T4–12). D: Sagittal thoracic CT scan (T8–10). E: Lateral thoracolumbar radiograph (T-9, T-10, and T-12). F: Sagittal 3D reconstructed cervicothoracic CT scan showing pedicle screws from T-1 to T-8.

References

1

Amiot LPLang KPutzier MZippel HLabelle H: Comparative results between conventional and computer-assisted pedicle screw installation in the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 25:6066142000

2

Beck MMittlmeier TGierer PHarms CGradl G: Benefit and accuracy of intraoperative 3D-imaging after pedicle screw placement: a prospective study in stabilizing thoracolumbar fractures. Eur Spine J 18:146914772009

3

Belmont PJ JrKlemme WRDhawan APolly DW Jr: In vivo accuracy of thoracic pedicle screws. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 26:234023462001

4

Braga BPde Morais JVVilela MD: Free-hand placement of high thoracic pedicle screws with the aid of fluoroscopy: evaluation of positioning by CT scans in a four-year consecutive series. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 68:3903952010

5

Carbone JJTortolani PJQuartararo LG: Fluoroscopically assisted pedicle screw fixation for thoracic and thoracolumbar injuries: technique and short-term complications. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 28:91972003

6

Choi WWGreen BALevi AD: Computer-assisted fluoroscopic targeting system for pedicle screw insertion. Neurosurgery 47:8728782000

7

Chung KJSuh SWDesai SSong HR: Ideal entry point for the thoracic pedicle screw during the free hand technique. Int Orthop 32:6576622008

8

Cui GWang YKao THZhang YLiu ZLiu B: Application of intraoperative computed tomography with or without navigation system in surgical correction of spinal deformity: a preliminary result of 59 consecutive human cases. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 37:8919002012

9

El Fiki IMZaiton FAwadalla AM: Role of postoperative multislice computed tomography in assessment of pedicle screw placement in spinal surgical fixation. Egypt J Radiol Nucl Med 44:63702013

10

Elliott MJSlakey JB: Thoracic pedicle screw placement: analysis using anatomical landmarks without image guidance. J Pediatr Orthop 27:5825862007

11

Fu TSChen LHWong CBLai PLTsai TTNiu CC: Computer-assisted fluoroscopic navigation of pedicle screw insertion: an in vivo feasibility study. Acta Orthop Scand 75:7307352004

12

Gautschi OPSchatlo BSchaller KTessitore E: Clinically relevant complications related to pedicle screw placement in thoracolumbar surgery and their management: a literature review of 35,630 pedicle screws. Neurosurg Focus 31:4E82011

13

Gelalis IDPaschos NKPakos EEPolitis ANArnaoutoglou CMKarageorgos AC: Accuracy of pedicle screw placement: a systematic review of prospective in vivo studies comparing free hand, fluoroscopy guidance and navigation techniques. Eur Spine J 21:2472552012

14

Gertzbein SDRobbins SE: Accuracy of pedicular screw placement in vivo. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 15:11141990

15

Holly LTFoley KT: Three-dimensional fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous thoracolumbar pedicle screw placement. Technical note. J Neurosurg 99:3 Suppl3243292003

16

Hyun SJKim YJCheh GYoon SHRhim SC: Free hand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine without any radiographic guidance: technical note, a cadaveric study. J Korean Neurosurg Soc 51:66702012

17

Karapinar LErel NOzturk HAltay TKaya A: Pedicle screw placement with a free hand technique in thoracolumbar spine: is it safe?. J Spinal Disord Tech 21:63672008

18

Kim YJLenke LG: Thoracic pedicle screw placement: freehand technique. Neurol India 53:5125192005

19

Kim YJLenke LGBridwell KHCho YSRiew KD: Free hand pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine: is it safe?. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 29:3333422004

20

Kim YWLenke LGKim YJBridwell KHKim YBWatanabe K: Free-hand pedicle screw placement during revision spinal surgery: analysis of 552 screws. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 33:114111482008

21

Kosmopoulos VSchizas C: Pedicle screw placement accuracy: a meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 32:E111E1202007

22

Lehman RA JrPolly DW JrKuklo TRCunningham BKirk KLBelmont PJ Jr: Straight-forward versus anatomic trajectory technique of thoracic pedicle screw fixation: a biomechanical analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 28:205820652003

23

Lifeso RMArabie KMKadhi SK: Fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Paraplegia 23:2072241985

24

McCormack BMBenzel ECAdams MSBaldwin NGRupp FWMaher DJ: Anatomy of the thoracic pedicle. Neurosurgery 37:3033081995

25

Modi HSuh SWSong HRYang JH: Accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement in scoliosis using the ideal pedicle entry point during the freehand technique. Int Orthop 33:4694752009

26

Moon MSChoi WTSun DHChae JWRyu JSChang H: Instrumented ligamentotaxis and stabilization of compression and burst fractures of dorsolumbar and mid-lumbar spines. Indian J Orthop 41:3463532007

27

Parker SLMcGirt MJFarber SHAmin AGRick AMSuk I: Accuracy of free-hand pedicle screws in the thoracic and lumbar spine: analysis of 6816 consecutive screws. Neurosurgery 68:1701782011

28

Rampersaud YRFoley KTShen ACWilliams SSolomito M: Radiation exposure to the spine surgeon during fluoroscopically assisted pedicle screw insertion. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 25:263726452000

29

Rampersaud YRLee KS: Fluoroscopic computer-assisted pedicle screw placement through a mature fusion mass: an assessment of 24 consecutive cases with independent analysis of computed tomography and clinical data. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 32:2172222007

30

Roy-Camille RSaillant GBerteaux DSalgado V: Osteosynthesis of thoraco-lumbar spine fractures with metal plates screwed through the vertebral pedicles. Reconstr Surg Traumatol 15:2161976

31

Samdani AFRanade ASciubba DMCahill PJAntonacci MDClements DH: Accuracy of free-hand placement of thoracic pedicle screws in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: how much of a difference does surgeon experience make?. Eur Spine J 19:91952010

32

Şarlak AYTosun BAtmaca HSarisoy HTBuluç L: Evaluation of thoracic pedicle screw placement in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Eur Spine J 18:189218972009

33

Sclafani JARegev GJWebb JGarfin SRKim CW: Use of a quantitative pedicle screw accuracy system to assess new technology: initial studies on O-arm navigation and its effect on the learning curve of percutaneous pedicle screw insertion. SAS J 5:57622011

34

Shin BJJames ARNjoku IUHärtl R: Pedicle screw navigation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of perforation risk for computer-navigated versus freehand insertion. A review. J Neurosurg Spine 17:1131222012

35

Upendra BNMeena DChowdhury BAhmad AJayaswal A: Outcome-based classification for assessment of thoracic pedicular screw placement. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 33:3843902008

36

Weinstein JNRydevik BLRauschning W: Anatomic and technical considerations of pedicle screw fixation. Clin Orthop Relat Res 28434461992

37

Weinstein JNSpratt KFSpengler DBrick CReid S: Spinal pedicle fixation: reliability and validity of roentgenogrambased assessment and surgical factors on successful screw placement. Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 13:101210181988

38

Youkilis ASQuint DJMcGillicuddy JEPapadopoulos SM: Stereotactic navigation for placement of pedicle screws in the thoracic spine. Neurosurgery 48:7717792001

39

Zhang CWang ZZhang CChen FZhang HYan X: Spine Bull's-Eye Robot guidewire placement with pedicle standard axis view for thoracic and lumbar pedicle screw fixation. J Spinal Disord Tech 25:E191E1982012

TrendMD

Metrics

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 241 241 70
PDF Downloads 1489 1489 307
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0

PubMed

Google Scholar