Study Design: This study compared the effectiveness of two transpedicular screw placement techniques: blind screw placement versus screw placement after direct determination of the superior, medial, and inferior borders of the pedicle through the opening of a “window” by the partial laminectomy and tapping technique.
Objectives: To determine if the incidence and severity of pedicle violations resulting from transpedicular screw placement could be reduced by direct determination of the superior, medial, and inferior borders of the pedicle through the opening of a “window” by partial laminectomy.
Summary of Background Data: Several studies regarding transpedicular screw fixation for unstable cervical spine injuries have been reported, but none has addressed the effectiveness in lowering the incidence of pedicle violation by opening a “window” by partial laminectomy for direct determination of the superior, medial, and inferior borders of the pedicle and using the tapping technique before and in planning for screw placement.
Methods: Eight adult cadaveric cervical spines (40 vertebrae from C3 to C7) were used for this study. Two groups were formed according to screw placement techniques. The first group was composed of 38 blinded transpedicular screw placements. The second group was composed of 40 screw placements using the partial laminectomy and tapping technique. After transpedicular screw placement, all specimens were evaluated radiographically and visually for violation of the pedicle.
Results: A decrease in the incidence and severity of pedicle violation was seen in the second group with opening of the lamina and tapping technique compared with the blind screw placement group. However, the percentage of screws found to violate the pedicle with the opening of the lamina and tapping technique still was relatively high.
Conclusions: Transpedicular screw placement in the cervical spine is difficult, and a high percentage of violations of the pedicle wall occur. This technique should not be used routinely.