Screw Loosening in Posterior Spine Fusion: Prevalence and Risk Factors

Laura Marie-Hardy, Hugues Pascal-Moussellard, Anne Barnaba, Raphael Bonaccorsi, Caroline Scemama
Global Spine Journal 2020, 10 (5): 598-602

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

OBJECTIVE: Screw loosening in spinal fusion is poorly defined. Accordingly, its prevalence rates range from 1% to 60%, and its risk factors remain undefined. The goal of this study was to assess the prevalence of screw loosening, according to precise definitions, and to identify factors associated with it.

METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed records for 166 patients who underwent a posterior spinal fusion in our institution between 2011 and 2016. We recorded demographic data, osteoporosis, pelvic balance, surgery-related information, and postoperative radiographic data at a minimum follow-up of 6 months. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were used. Significance was defined by P < .05.

RESULTS: When loosening was defined by partial pull-out, its prevalence was 9.6% (95% CI 5.6-15); thoracic localization, the use of CrCo (chromium-cobalt) rods, osteoporosis, PI/LL (pelvic incidence/lumbar lordosis) mismatch (preoperative), and frontal imbalance (preoperative) were significant risk factors. When loosening was defined by osteolysis (radiolucent rim) >1 mm around at least 1 screw, its prevalence was 40.4% (95% CI 33-48) and age, scoliosis as indication for fusion, ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists) 2 or 3, the use of CrCo rods, more than 5 levels fused, no circumferential arthrodesis, postoperative bracing, and sacrum or ilium as the inferior level of instrumentation were also significant risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS: A clear definition of screw loosening seems essential for a useful analysis of the literature. Osteoporosis, sagittal imbalance, and rigid material appear to be risk factors, regardless of the definition.

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