Esophageal Perforation Caused by a Posterior Pedicle Screw: A Case Report

J Pediatr Orthop. 2017 Mar;37(2):98-101. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000700.


Background: Posterior spinal instrumented fusion has received widespread acceptance in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) treatment, there have been some potential complications resulted from screw misplacement. Esophagus is one of the vital structures close to the upper thoracic vertebras and is at risk for potential injury.

Methods: A 15-year-old girl who underwent posterior instrumented fusion for AIS was admitted to our department 10 years later with a complaint of dysphagia due to an esophageal perforation from a malpositioned T4 pedicle screw (PS). After implant removal and nasogastric tube placement, oral feeding was started after 3 days and the patient was discharged from hospital after 1 week.

Results: In 12 weeks, the esophageal perforation healed without complications.

Conclusions: This is the first case report of esophageal perforation by a posterior PS in an AIS patient. Esophagus is close to the upper thoracic vertebras and an anterior cortical perforation can cause esophageal injury if longer than 35 mm PSs are used. This unusual but potential complication must be kept in mind in scoliosis surgery.

Level of evidence: Level IV-case report.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Esophageal Perforation / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pedicle Screws / adverse effects*
  • Scoliosis / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery