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Segmental pedicle screw instrumentation in idiopathic thoracolumbar and lumbar scoliosis

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The role of posterior correction and fusion in thoracolumbar and lumbar scoliosis as well as pedicle screw instrumentation in scoliosis surgery are matters of debate. Our hypothesis was that in lumbar and thoracolumbar scoliosis, segmental pedicle screw instrumentation is safe and enables a good frontal and sagittal plane correction with a fusion length comparable to anterior instrumentation. In a prospective clinical trial, 12 consecutive patients with idiopathic thoracolumbar or lumbar scolioses of between 40° and 60° Cobb angle underwent segmental pedicle screw instrumentation. Minimum follow-up was 4 years (range 48– 60 months). Fusion length was defined according to the rules for Zielke instrumentation, normally ranging between the end vertebrae of the major curve. Radiometric analysis included coronal and sagittal plane correction. Additionally, the accuracy of pedicle screw placement was measured by use of postoperative computed tomographic scans. Major curve correction averaged 64.6%, with a loss of correction of 3°. The tilt angle was corrected by 67.0%, the compensatory thoracic curve corrected spontaneously according to the flexibility on the preoperative bending films, and led to a satisfactory frontal balance in all cases. Average fusion length was the same as that of the major curve. Pathological thoracolumbar kyphosis was completely corrected in all but one case. One patient required surgical revision with extension of the fusion to the midthoracic spine due to a painful junctional kyphosis. Eighty-five of 104 screws were graded “within the pedicle”, 10 screws had penetrated laterally, 5 screws bilaterally and 4 screws medially. No neurological complications were noted. In conclusion, despite the limited number of patients, this study shows that segmental pedicle screw instrumentation is a safe and effective procedure in the surgical correction of both frontal and sagittal plane deformity in thoracolumbar and lumbar scoliosis of less than 60°, with a short fusion length, comparable to anterior fusion techniques, and minimal loss of correction.

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Received: 23 September 1999 Revised: 20 January 2000 Accepted: 26 January 2000

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Halm, H., Niemeyer, T., Link, T. et al. Segmental pedicle screw instrumentation in idiopathic thoracolumbar and lumbar scoliosis. E Spine J 9, 191–197 (2000).

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