Pedicle screws have become the gold standard of spinal instrumentation over the past decade owing to their biomechanical superiority. Despite their advantages, pedicle screw instrumentation is potentially dangerous, and surgeons wish to improve accuracy of screw placement to avoid complications associated with screw misplacement. The anatomy of the pedicles is variable throughout the spine, and several landmarks and trajectories have been suggested to aid safe placement of pedicle screws in the spine. Several techniques such as x-ray and computed tomography scan imaging coupled with computer-aided navigation are available to improve accuracy of screw insertion. Intraoperative neuromonitoring with the help of triggered electromyographic recordings has evolved as an objective evidence of assessing pedicle breach and proximity of the screw to neural structures. While all imaging and electrophysiological modalities should be applied on an individualized basis, finally no adjunctive technique can fully replace the need for surgical expertise and experience.
Twin Cities Spine Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Amir A. Mehbod, MD, Twin Cities Spine Center, 913 East 26th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404, U.S.A.; e-mail: education@tcspine.