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Posterior-only correction of Scheuermann kyphosis using pedicle screws: economical optimization through screw density reduction

Eyal Behrbalk, Ofir Uri, Ruth M Parks, Michael Paul Grevitt, Marcus Rickert, Bronek Maximilian Boszczyk
European Spine Journal 2014, 23 (10): 2203-10

INTRODUCTION: Posterior-only approach using pedicle screws' fixation has emerged as the preferred surgical technique for Scheuermann kyphosis (SK) correction. Insertion of multiple pedicle screws while increasing stability increases also the risk of complications related to screw malpositioning and surgical cost. The optimal screw density required in surgical correction of SK remains unclear. This study compares the safety and efficacy of low screw density (LSD) versus high screw density (HSD) technique used in posterior-only correction of SK.

METHODS: Twenty-one patients underwent surgical correction of SK between 2007 and 2011 and were reviewed after a mean of 29 months. HSD technique (i.e., 100 % of available pedicles, averaged 25.2 ± 4 screws) was used in 10 cases and LSD technique (i.e., 54-69 % of available pedicles in a pre-determined pattern, averaged 16.8 ± 1.3 screws; p < 0.001) was used in 11 cases. Kyphosis correction was assessed by comparing thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and sagittal balance on preoperative and postoperative radiographs. Cost saving analysis was performed for each group.

RESULTS: Preoperative thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis and sagittal balance were similar for both groups. The average postoperative kyphosis correction was similar in both HSD and LSD groups (29° ± 9° vs. 34° ± 6°, respectively; p = 0.14). Complication occurred in four patients (19 %) in the HSD group and in two patients (9 %) in the LSD group (p = 0.56). Three patients required re-operation. Compared to HSD using LSD saves 4,200 pounds sterling per patient in hardware and 88,200 pounds sterling for the entire cohort.

CONCLUSION: LSD technique is as safe and effective as HSD technique in posterior-only correction of SK. Implant-related cost could be reduced by 32 %.

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