Marc Hohenhaus, Ralf Watzlawick, Waseem Masalha, Florian Volz, Christoph Scholz, Ulrich Hubbe, Jan-Helge Klingler

January 2021, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 88 - 96 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-020-06467-8

First Online: 27 May 2020

Cranial facet joint injuries in percutaneous lumbar pedicle screw placement: a matched-pair analysis comparing intraoperative 3D navigation and conventional fluoroscopy


The violation of the cranial adjacent facet is a frequent complication in lumbar instrumentations and can induce local pain and adjacent segment disease. Minimally invasive screw implantation is often stated as risk factor in comparison with open approaches. Percutaneous pedicle screw placement (PPSP) can be performed using single X-ray images (fluoroscopy) or intraoperative 3D navigation. The study compares top-level screws in percutaneous lumbar instrumentations regarding facet violations and screw pedicle position using navigation or fluoroscopy.


Patients after lumbar PPSP were retrospectively separated according to the intraoperative technique: navigation (NAV) or fluoroscopy (FLUORO). Two blinded investigators graded the top-level screws regarding facet violations and pedicle breach in postoperative CT scans. Subsequent matched cohort analysis was performed for comparable groups.


Evaluating 768 screws, we assessed 70 (9.1%) facet violations. Overall, 186 (24.2%) screws were implanted using navigation. There was no significant difference in the rate of facet violations between both imaging groups (NAV 19/186, 10.2%, FLUORO 51/582, 8.8%, p = 0.55). Totally, 728 (94.8%) of all screws showed a correct pedicle position. Most of the 40 unfavorable pedicle positions were placed by fluoroscopy (NAV 4/186, 2.2%, FLUORO 36/582, 6.6%, p = 0.03). The matched cohorts verified these results (facet violations: NAV 19/186, 10.2%, FLUORO 18/186, 9.7%, p = 0.55; pedicle penetrations: NAV 4/186, 2.2%, FLUORO 12/186, 6.9%, p = 0.04).


Both intraoperative imaging techniques allow lumbar PPSP with low rates of cranial facet violations if the surgeon intends to preserve facet integrity. Navigation was superior concerning accurate pedicle screw position, but could not significantly prevent facet violations.

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