Complications of cervical pedicle screw fixation for nontraumatic lesions: a multicenter study of 84 patients.
ABSTRACT The cervical pedicle screw (PS) provides strong stabilization but poses a potential risk to the neurovascular system, which may be catastrophic. In particular, vertebrae with degenerative changes complicate the process of screw insertion, and PS misplacement and subsequent complications are more frequent. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the peri- and postoperative complications of PS fixation for nontraumatic lesions and to determine the risk factors of each complication.
Eighty-four patients who underwent cervical PS fixation for nontraumatic lesions were independently reviewed to identify associated complications. The mean age of the patients was 60.1 years, and the mean follow-up period was 4.1 years (range 6-168 months). Pedicle screw malpositioning was classified on postoperative CT scans as Grade I (< 50% of the screw outside the pedicle) or Grade II (≥ 50% of the screw outside the pedicle). Risk factors of each complication were evaluated using a multivariate analysis.
Three hundred ninety cervical PSs and 24 lateral mass screws were inserted. The incidence of PS misplacement was 19.5% (76 screws); in terms of malpositioning, 60 screws (15.4%) were classified as Grade I and 16 (4.1%) as Grade II. In total, 33 complications were observed. These included postoperative neurological complications in 11 patients in whom there was no evidence of screw misplacement (C-5 palsy in 10 and C-7 palsy in 1), implant failure in 11 patients (screw loosening in 5, broken screws in 4, and loss of reduction in 2), complications directly attributable to screw insertion in 5 patients (nerve root injury by PS in 3 and vertebral artery injury in 2), and other complications in 6 patients (pseudarthrosis in 2, infection in 1, transient dyspnea in 1, transient dysphagia in 1, and adjacent-segment degeneration in 1). The multivariate analysis showed that a primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy was a risk factor for postoperative implant failure (HR 10.91, p = 0.03) and that the presence of preoperative cervical spinal instability was a risk factor for both Grade I and Grade II screw misplacement (RR 2.12, p = 0.03), while there were no statistically significant risk factors for postoperative neurological complications in the absence of evidence of screw misplacement or complications directly attributable to screw insertion.
In the present study, misplacement of cervical PSs and associated complications occurred more often than in previous studies. The rates of screw-related neurovascular complications and neurological deterioration unrelated to PSs were high. Insertion of a PS for nontraumatic lesions is surgically more challenging than that for trauma; consequently, experienced surgeons should use PS fixation for nontraumatic cervical lesions only after thorough preoperative evaluation of each patient's cervical anatomy and after considering the risk factors specified in the present study.
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ABSTRACT: Today, posterior stabilization of the cervical spine is most frequently performed by lateral mass screws or spinous process wiring. These techniques do not always provide sufficient stability, and anterior fusion procedures are added secondarily. Recently, transpedicular screw fixation of the cervical spine has been introduced to provide a one-stage stable posterior fixation. The aim of the present prospective study is to examine if cervical pedicle screw fixation can be done by low risk and to identify potential risk factors associated with this technique. All patients stabilized by cervical transpedicular screw fixation between 1999 and 2002 were included. Cervical disorders included multisegmental degenerative instability with cervical myelopathy in 16 patients, segmental instability caused by rheumatoid arthritis in three, trauma in five and instability caused by infection in two patients. In most cases additional decompression of the spinal cord and bone graft placement were performed. Pre-operative and post-operative CT-scans (2-mm cuts) and plain X-rays served to determine changes in alignment and the position of the screws. Clinical outcome was assessed in all cases. Ninety-four cervical pedicle screws were implanted in 26 patients, most frequently at the C3 (26 screws) and C4 levels (19 screws). Radiologically 66 screws (70%) were placed correctly (maximal breach 1 mm) whereas 20 screws (21%) were misplaced with reduction of mechanical strength, slight narrowing of the vertebral artery canal (<25%) or the lateral recess without compression of neural structures. However, these misplacements were asymptomatic in all cases. Another eight screws (9%) had a critical breach. Four of them showed a narrowing of the vertebral artery canal of more then 25%, in all cases without vascular problems. Three screws passed through the intervertebral foramen, causing temporary paresis in one case and a new sensory loss in another. In the latter patient revision surgery was performed. The screw was loosened and had to be corrected. The only statistically significant risk factor was the level of surgery: all critical breaches were seen from C3 to C5. Percutaneous application of the screws reduced the risk for misplacement, although this finding was not statistically significant. There was also a remarkable learning curve. Instrumentation with cervical transpedicular screws results in very stable fixation. However, with the use of new techniques like percutaneous screw application or computerized image guidance there remains a risk for damaging nerve roots or the vertebral artery. This technique should be reserved for highly selected patients with clear indications and to highly experienced spine surgeons.European Spine Journal 04/2006; 15(3):327-34. · 2.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The internal architecture of cervical spine pedicles was investigated by thin sectioning and digitization of radiographic images. To provide quantitative information on the internal dimensions and cortical shell thicknesses of the middle and lower cervical pedicles. Although there have been a number of studies presenting data on the external dimensions of the cervical pedicle, little is known regarding its internal architecture and cortical shell thickness along the pedicle axis. Twenty-five human cervical vertebrae (C3-C7) were secured to a thin-sectioning machine to produce three 0.7-mm-thick pedicle slices along its axis. Plain radiographs of the pedicle slices were scanned and digitized to facilitate measurement of the internal dimensions. Computer software was specifically developed to determine the external dimensions (i.e., pedicle height and width) and the internal dimensions (i.e., cortical shell thicknesses of the superior, inferior, lateral, and medial walls and the cancellous core height and width) of cervical pedicles. Superior and inferior wall cortical thicknesses of pedicle thin slices were similar, whereas the lateral wall cortical thickness was significantly smaller than the medial wall thickness. The medial cortical shell (average value range: 1.2-2.0 mm) was measured to be 1.4 to 3.6 times as thick as the lateral cortical shell (average value range: 0.4-1.1 mm). When medial and lateral cortical thicknesses were normalized for external dimensions, the combined cortical shell thickness was thinnest at C7 (average value range: 18. 6-25.6% of the external width), and this result was statistically significant when compared with other vertebral levels. The cervical pedicle is a complex, three-dimensional structure exhibiting extensive variability in internal morphology. Characteristics of the cervical pedicle at different spinal levels must be noted before transpedicular screw fixation.Spine 06/2000; 25(10):1197-205. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This retrospective study was conducted to analyze the clinical results in 45 patients with nontraumatic lesions of the cervical spine treated by pedicle screw fixation. To evaluate the effectiveness of pedicle screw fixation in reconstructive surgery for nontraumatic cervical spinal disorders. Pedicle screw fixation for hangman's fracture of the axis and traumatic lesions of the middle and lower cervical spine has been reported; however, there have been no reports on pedicle screw fixation for nontraumatic lesions of the cervical spine. Forty-five patients with nontraumatic lesions of the cervical spine underwent reconstructive surgery including pedicle screw fixation and fusion. Five patients underwent occipitocervical fixation for the lesion of the upper cervical spine, and one patient underwent separate occipitocervical fixation and cervicothoracic fixation. Cervical or cervicothoracic fixation was performed in 39 patients. Twenty-six of these patients underwent simultaneous laminectomy or laminoplasty. Supplemental anterior surgery was conducted for 15 patients. Solid fusion was obtained in all patients except eight with metastatic vertebral tumors who did not receive bone graft. Correction of kyphosis was adequate. There were no neurovascular complications, except one case of transient radiculopathy caused by screw threads. Pedicle screw fixation is a useful procedure for posterior reconstruction of the cervical spine. This procedure does not require the lamina for stabilization, and should be especially valuable for simultaneous posterior decompression and fusion. The risk to neurovascular structures, however, cannot be completely eliminated.Spine 09/1997; 22(16):1853-63. · 2.16 Impact Factor