Treatment of thoracolumbar trauma by short-segment percutaneous transpedicular screw instrumentation: prospective comparative study with a minimum 2-year follow-up

J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Feb;20(2):150-6. doi: 10.3171/2013.11.SPINE13479. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


Object: The main aim of this study was to compare clinical and radiological outcomes after stabilization by a percutaneous transpedicular system and stabilization from the standard open approach for thoracolumbar spine injury.

Methods: Thirty-seven consecutive patients were enrolled in the study over a period of 16 months. Patients were included in the study if they experienced 1 thoracolumbar fracture (A3.1-A3.3, according to the AO/Magerl classification), had an absence of neurological deficits, had no other significant injuries, and were willing to participate. Eighteen patients were treated by short-segment, minimally invasive, percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation. The control group was composed of 19 patients who were stabilized using a short-segment transpedicular construct, which was performed through a standard midline incision. The pain profile was assessed by a visual analog scale (VAS), and overall satisfaction by a simple 4-stage scale relating to performance of daily activities. Working ability and return to original occupation were also monitored. Radiographic follow-up was defined by the vertebral body index (VBI), vertebral body angle (VBA), and bisegmental Cobb angle. The accuracy of screw placement was examined using CT.

Results: The mean surgical duration in the percutaneous screw group was 53 ± 10 minutes, compared with 60 ± 9 minutes in the control group (p = 0.032). The percutaneous screw group had a significantly lower perioperative blood loss of 56 ± 17 ml, compared with 331 ± 149 ml in the control group (p < 0.001). Scores on the VAS in patients in the percutaneous screw group during the first 7 postoperative days were significantly lower than those in the control group (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between groups in VBI, VBA, and Cobb angle values during follow-up. There was no significant difference in screw placement accuracy between the groups and no patients required surgical revision. There was no significant difference between groups in overall satisfaction at the 2-year follow-up (p = 0.402). Working ability was insignificantly better in the percutaneous screw group; previous working position was achieved in 17 patients in this group and in 12 cases in the control group (p = 0.088).

Conclusions: This study confirms that the percutaneous transpedicular screw technique represents a viable option in the treatment of preselected thoracolumbar fractures. A significant reduction in blood loss, postoperative pain, and surgical time were the main advantages associated with this minimally invasive technique. Clinical, functional, and radiological results were at least the same as those achieved using the open technique after a 2-year follow-up. The short-term benefits of the percutaneous transpedicular screw technique are apparent, and long-term results have to be studied in other well-designed studies evaluating the theoretical benefit of the percutaneous technique and assessing whether the results of the latter are as durable as the ones achieved by open surgery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bone Screws
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / instrumentation
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome