Thoracic pedicle screw placement guided by computed tomographic measurements

J Spinal Disord. 1999 Jun;12(3):222-6.


Cadaveric pedicle screw placement guided by the measurements from axial computed tomography (CT) scans in the thoracic spine was assessed in this study. Axial CT scans were performed on four cadaveric thoracic spines, and the measurements included the pedicle transverse angle, inner pedicle width, and distance between the midline of the vertebra and the pedicle axis on the dorsal aspect of the lamina. With utilization of the data from CT scans, screws were directly placed into the thoracic pedicle from T1 to T10. Screw penetration of the pedicle was determined by gross examination. The results showed that the largest pedicle transverse angle was found at the levels of T1-2, and the smallest occurred at the T3 through T8 levels. The value of the pedicle inner width was quite different between specimens with a minimum of 3.0 mm at T4 and a maximum of 9.2 mm at T10. Gross examination of the pedicle showed that 13 (16.3%) of 80 screws penetrated the pedicle wall, with a Grade I penetration in 11 pedicles and a Grade II penetration in 2 pedicles. Screw penetration of the medial wall was found in four pedicles and penetration of the lateral wall was noted in nine pedicles. No screw penetration of the superior and inferior walls of the pedicle was identified in any of the four specimens. Thoracic pedicle screw placement guided by the measurements from axial CT scans significantly reduced the incidence of pedicle penetration. Axial CT measurements of the pedicle inner diameter and transverse angle as well as the starting point for screw insertion are recommended if pedicle screw fixation is intended in the thoracic spine.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Screws*
  • Cadaver
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography, Interventional
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*