In recent years, the use of pedicle screws has become the gold standard for achieving stable, 3-column fixation of the spine. However, pedicle screw placement may not always be ideal, such as in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, because of pedicle morphology. An understanding of the alternatives to pedicle screw fixation is therefore important in the treatment of patients with spinal deformity. The purpose of this article is to review the indications, advantages, disadvantages, and complications associated with non-pedicular fixation techniques of the thoracolumbar spine.
Comprehensive literature searches of PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were performed for 10 methods of non-pedicular fixation. Articles published between January 1, 1990, and June 1, 2019, were considered. Non-English-language articles and studies involving fixation of the cervical spine were excluded from our review.
After reviewing >1,600 titles and abstracts pertaining to non-pedicular fixation, a total of 213 articles met our inclusion criteria. Non-pedicular fixation may be preferred in certain cases of spinal deformity and may provide stronger fixation in osteoporotic bone. The use of non-pedicular fixation techniques is often limited by the inability to place multilevel constructs on intact posterior elements. Additionally, some methods of non-pedicular fixation, such as spinous process tethering, primarily have utility for the end of constructs to minimize junctional problems.
Pedicle screws remain the anchor of choice in spinal deformity surgery because of their ability to engage all 3 columns of the spine and provide safe correction in all 3 planes. Nevertheless, non-pedicular fixation may be useful in cases in which pedicle screw placement is extremely difficult.
Level of Evidence:
Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.