Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 256-260

Is freehand technique of pedicle screw insertion in thoracolumbar spine safe and accurate? Assessment of 250 screws

Department of Neurosurgery, Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Raju Venkatesh
2, Palaniyappan Street, Kanthakonar Layout, Kavundanpalayam, Coimbatore - 641 030, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_183_18

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Background: Pedicle screw fixation is one of the widely used procedures for instrumentation and stabilization of the thoracic and lumbar spine. It has the advantage of stabilizing all the three columns in single approach. Various assistive techniques are available to place the pedicle screws more accurately but at the expense of increased exposure to radiation, prolonged surgical duration, and cost. Objective: The objective of this study is to determine the accuracy and safety of pedicle screw fixation in the thoracolumbar spine using freehand surgical technique. Materials and Methods: We evaluated all patients who underwent pedicle screw fixation of the thoracolumbar spine for various ailments at our institute from January 2016 to December 2017 with postoperative computed tomography scan for placement accuracy. We used Gertzbein classification to grade pedicle breaches. Screw penetration more than 4 mm was taken as critical and those less than that were classified as noncritical. Results: A total of 256 screws inserted in T1–L5 vertebrae were included from 40 consecutive patients. Six screws were excluded according to selection criteria. The mean age was 39 years. Trauma (36 patients) was the common reason for which the pedicle screw fixation was done followed by degenerative disease (2 patients) and tumour (2 patients). A total of ten pedicle screw breaches (4%) were identified in eight patients. Among these, three critical breaches (1.2%) were occurred in two patients which required revision. The remaining seven breaches were noncritical and kept under close observation and follow-up. Conclusion: Pedicle screw had become the workhorse of posterior stabilization of the spine. Based on external anatomy and landmarks alone, freehand technique for pedicle screw fixation can be performed with acceptable safety and accuracy avoiding cumulative radiation exposure and prolonged operative time.

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