Computer-assisted thoracic pedicle screw placement: An in vitro feasibility study

Kee D. Kim*, J. Patrick Johnson, Orin Bloch, Jeffery E. Masciopinto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Study Design: In this cadaveric study, a computer-assisted image guidance system was tested for accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement. Objectives: Evaluate the system's accuracy for thoracic pedicle screw placement in vitro. Summary of Background Data: The effective use and reliability of pedicle screw instrumentation in providing short-segment stabilization and correction of deformity is well known in the lumbar spine. Pedicle screw placement in the thoracic spine is difficult because of the small dimensions of the thoracic pedicles and risk to the adjacent spinal cord and neurovascular structures. Investigators have shown the improved accuracy of computer-assisted lumbar pedicle screw placement; but the accuracy of computer-assisted thoracic pedicle screw placement, which is becoming more widely used, has not been shown. Methods: In five human cadavers, 120 thoracic pedicle screws were placed with computer-assisted image guidance. The largest clinically feasible screw was used based on the cross-sectional dimensions of each pedicle. The accuracy was assessed by postoperative computed tomography and visual inspection. Results: The overall pedicle cortex violation was 23 of 120 pedicles (19.2%). Nine violations (7.5%) were graded as major and 14 (11.7%) as minor. A marked and progressive learning curve was evident with the perforation rates that decreased from 37.5% in the first cadaver to 4.2% in the last two cadavers. Conclusions: Accurate thoracic pedicle screw placement is feasible with computer-assisted surgery. However, as with any other new surgical technology, the learning curve must be recognized and incorporated into the necessary fundamental knowledge and experience for these procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-364
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2001


  • Computer-assistance
  • Image guidance
  • Thoracic pedicle fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Computer-assisted thoracic pedicle screw placement: An in vitro feasibility study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this