Yasutsugu Yukawa, Fumihiko Kato, Keigo Ito, Yumiko Horie, Tetsurou Hida, Hiroaki Nakashima, Masaaki Machino

September 2009, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1293 - 1299 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-1032-7

First Online: 02 June 2009

Cervical pedicle screw fixation is an effective procedure for stabilising an unstable motion segment; however, it has generally been considered too risky due to the potential for injury to neurovascular structures, such as the spinal cord, nerve roots or vertebral arteries. Since 1995, we have treated 144 unstable cervical injury patients with pedicle screws using a fluoroscopy-assisted pedicle axis view technique. The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of this technique in accurately placing pedicle screws to treat unstable cervical injuries, and the ensuing clinical outcomes and complications. The accuracy of pedicle screw placement was postoperatively examined by axial computed tomography scans and oblique radiographs. Solid posterior bony fusion without secondary dislodgement was accomplished in 96% of all cases. Of the 620 cervical pedicle screws inserted, 57 (9.2%) demonstrated screw exposure (50% of the screw outside the pedicle). There was one case in which a probe penetrated a vertebral artery without further complication and one case with transient radiculopathy. Pre- and postoperative tracheotomy was required in 20 (13.9%) of the 144 patients. However, the tracheotomies were easily performed, because those patients underwent posterior surgery alone without postoperative external fixation. The placement of cervical pedicle screws using a fluoroscopy-assisted pedicle axis view technique provided good clinical results and a few complications for unstable cervical injuries, but a careful surgical procedure was needed to safely insert the screws and more improvement in imaging and navigation system is expected.

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