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The USS Pedicle Hook System: A Morphometric Analysis of Its Safety in the Thoracic Spine

Berlet Greg C.; Boubez, Ghassan; Gurr, Kevin R.; Bailey, Stewart I.
Clinical Spine Surgery: June 1999
Commentary: PDF Only


The Universal Spine System (USS) pedicle hook design includes a fixation screw that passes obliquely in the anterocranial direction in the pedicle. The addition of the fixation screw was to address concerns with rotation of the hook and hook disengagement. This study was designed to evaluate the safety of the USS screw locked pedicle hook. Eleven cadaveric thoracic spines were instrumented posteriorly with USS pedicle hooks from T1 to T12. Spinal instrumentation was performed by a spinal surgeon experienced with the USS system. Spinal deformity was created prior to instrumentation, ranging from 0 to 55° in the horizontal plane (rotation) and from 0 to 50° in the frontal plane (scoliosis). Radiographs, computed tomography (CT), and segmental dissection were used for data acquisition. Morphometric CT analysis before instrumentation demonstrated that the transverse pedicular diameter was the smallest at T5 with a mean of 3.7 mm. The transverse pedicular angle (TPA) was found to always point toward the mid-line. The largest TPA was observed at T1 with a mean TPA of 28.4°. The pedicle with the least angular deviation from the midline was T11 with a mean TPA of 7°. Postinstrumentation CT analysis and segmental dissection revealed perforations of the pedicle cortex by the fixation screw in 15% of instrumented pedicles (26/172). There were 6 medial and 20 lateral perforations. Medial perforations occurred exclusively in the three most proximal spinal segments, whereas the lateral perforations occurred throughout the thoracic spine. The mean encroachment of the fixation screw was 1.67 mm medially and 1.95 mm laterally. This study demonstrates the variation in caliber and direction of the thoracic pedicles. Medial and lateral perforations of the pedicle can occur with the USS pedicle hook instrumented system.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.