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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Assessment of CAOS as a training model in spinal surgery: a randomised study

P J Richards, I C Kurta, V Jasani, C H Wynn Jones, A Rahmatalla, G Mackenzie, J Dove
European Spine Journal 2007, 16 (2): 239-44
16683122
The objectives of this study were (1) to quantify the benefit of computer assisted orthopaedic surgery (CAOS) pedicle screw insertion in a porcine cadaver model evaluated by dissection and computed tomography (CT); (2) to compare the effect on performance of four surgeons with no experience of CAOS, and varying experience of pedicle screw insertion; (3) to see if CT with extended windows was an acceptable method to evaluate the position of the pedicle screws in the porcine cadaver model, compared to dissection. This was a prospective, randomised, controlled and blinded porcine cadaver study. Twelve 6-month-old porcine (white skinned Landrace) lumbar spines were scanned pre-operatively by spiral CT, as required for the CAOS computer data set. Computer randomisation allocated the specimens to one of four surgeons, all new to CAOS but with different levels of experience in spinal surgery. The usual anatomical landmarks for the freehand technique were known to all four surgeons. Two pedicles at each vertebral level were randomly allocated between conventional free hand insertion and an electromagnetic image guided surgery (NAVITRAK) and 6.5 mm cancellous AO screws inserted. Post-operatively, spiral CT was blindly evaluated by an independent radiologist and the spine fellow to assess the accuracy of pedicle screw placement, by each method. The inter- and intra-observer reliability of CT was evaluated compared to dissection. The pedicle screw placement was assessed as perfect if within the pedicle along its central axis, or acceptable (within < 2 mm from perfect), and measured in millimetres from perfect thereafter. One hundred and sixty-six of 168 pedicles in 12 porcine spines were operated on. Complete data were present for 163 pedicles (81 CAOS, 82 freehand). In the CAOS group 84% of screws were deemed acceptable or perfect, compared to 75.6% with the freehand technique. Screw misplacement was significantly reduced using CAOS (P = 0.049). Seventy-nine percent of CAOS screws were ideally placed compared with 64% with a conventional freehand technique (P = 0.05). A logistic linear regression model showed that the miss placed pedicle screw rate was significantly reduced using CAOS (P = 0.047). CAOS benefited the least experienced surgeons most (the research registrars acceptable rate increased from 70 to 90% and the spine fellow from 76 to 86%). CAOS did not have a statistically significant effect on the experienced consultant spine surgeon increasing from 70 to 79% (P = 0.39). The experienced general orthopaedic surgeon did not benefit from CAOS (P = 0.5). CT compared to dissection showed an intra-observer reliability of 99.4% and inter-observer reliability of 92.6%. The conclusions of this study were as follows: (1) an increased number of pedicle screws were ideally placed using the CAOS electromagnetic guidance system compared to the conventional freehand technique; (2) junior surgeons benefited most from CAOS; (3) we believe CAOS (Navitrak) with porcine lumbar spines evaluated by post operative CT, represents a useful model for training junior surgeons in pedicle screw placement; (4) experienced spine surgeons, who have never used CAOS, may find CAOS less helpful than previously reported.

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