Fluoroscopically assisted pedicle screw fixation for thoracic and thoracolumbar injuries: Technique and short-term complications

John J. Carbone, P. Justin Tortolani, Louis G. Quartararo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Study Design. Retrospective review of charts and fluoroscopic, radiographic, and computed tomography images for 252 screws (41 patients). Objectives. To describe a fluoroscopically assisted technique of thoracic pedicle screw insertion and to determine the technique's safety, short-term complications, and accuracy. Summary of Background Data. Pedicle screw instrumentation is safe and effective for lumbar spine stabilization, but evidence of its accuracy and complications in the thoracic spine is lacking. Methods. Between 1997 and 2000, 41 consecutive patients with unstable cervicothoracic, thoracic, and thoracolumbar spine injuries were admitted to a regional, level 1 trauma center. These patients underwent posterior spine arthrodesis and pedicle screw instrumentation placed via intraoperative multiplanar fluoroscopic imaging. Pedicle screw placement accuracy was determined by review of postoperative computed tomography scans. Instrumentation failure prevalence was determined by review of fluoroscopic images, postoperative radiographs, and computed tomography scans. Neurologic, infectious, vascular, and gastrointestinal complications were determined by review of operative reports, hospital records, and clinic notes. Results. Of the 126 (50%) thoracic screws (22 patients) with postoperative computed tomography scans, 16 (12.7%) penetrated the pedicle cortex (4 [2.4%] medially and 13 [10.3%] laterally) and 7 (5.6%) penetrated the vertebral body. There were four surgical complications: one instrumentation failure (broken rod, no loss of correction), one deep infection, and two superficial infections. The infections resolved with irrigation, debridement, and intravenous antibiotics. During the 6- to 24-month follow-up period, there were no neurologic, vascular, or gastrointestinal complications. Conclusions. Cervicothoracic, thoracic, and thoracolumbar spine injuries can be managed safely and effectively with thoracic pedicle screws inserted under multiplanar fluoroscopic imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Complications
  • Injury
  • Pedicle screws
  • Technique
  • Thoracic spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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