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Accuracy and Safety of Pedicle Screw Placement in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Patients: A Review of 2020 Screws Using Computed Tomography Assessment

Kwan, Mun Keong MBBS, MSOrth; Chiu, Chee Kidd MBBS, MSOrth; Gani, Siti Mariam Abd BSc; Wei, Chris Chan Yin MD, MSOrth

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001738

Study Design. Retrospective review of CT scan.

Objective. To investigate the accuracy and safety of pedicle screws placed in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) patients.

Summary of Background Data. The reported pedicle screws perforation rates for corrective AIS surgery vary widely from 1.2% to 65.0%. Knowledge regarding the safety of pedicle screws in scoliosis surgery is very important in preventing complications.

Methods. This study investigates the accuracy and safety of pedicle screws placed in 140 AIS patients. CT scans were used to assess the perforations that were classified according to Rao et al (2002): grade 0, grade 1 (<2 mm), grade 2 (2–4 mm), and grade 3 (>4 mm). Anterior perforations were classified into grade 0, grade 1 (<4 mm), grade 2 (4–6 mm), and grade 3 (>6 mm). Grade 2 and 3 (excluding lateral grade 2 and 3 perforation over thoracic vertebrae) were considered as critical perforations.

Results. A total of 2020 pedicle screws from 140 patients were analyzed. The overall total perforation rate was 20.3% (410 screws) with 8.2% (166 screws) grade 1, 2.9% (58 screws) grade 2 and 9.2% (186 screws) grade 3 perforations. Majority of the perforations was because of lateral perforation occurring over the thoracic region, as a result of application of extrapedicular screws at this region. When the lateral perforations of the thoracic region were excluded, the perforation rate was 6.4% (129 screws), grade 2, 1.4% (28 screws) and grade 3, 0.8% (16 screws). There were only two symptomatic left medial grade 2 perforations: one screw at T12 presented with postoperative iliac crest numbness and another screw at L2 presented with radicular pain that subsided with conservative treatment. There were six anterior perforations abutting the right lung, four anterior perforations abutting the aorta, two anterior perforations abutting the esophagus, and one abutting the trachea was noted.

Conclusion. Pedicle screws insertion in AIS has a total perforation rate of 20.3%. After exclusion of lateral thoracic perforations, the overall perforation rate was 8.6% with a critical perforation rate of 2.2% (44/2020). The rate of symptomatic screw perforation leading to radicular symptoms was 0.1%. There was no spinal cord, aortic, esophageal, or lung injuries caused by malpositioned screws in this study.

Level of Evidence: 4

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, National Orthopedic Center of Excellence for Research and Learning, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Chris Chan Yin Wei, MD, MSOrth, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, National Orthopedic Center of Excellence for Research and Learning (NOCERAL), Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; E-mail:

Received 12 February, 2016

Revised 3 May, 2016

Accepted 1 June, 2016

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work.

No relevant financial activities outside the submitted work.

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