Background: Spinal instrumentation and fusion for the treatment of scoliosis is primarily a mechanical intervention to correct the deformity and halt further progression. While implant-related complications remain a concern, little is known about the magnitudes of the forces applied to the spine during surgery, which may affect post-surgical outcomes. In this study, the compressive forces applied to each spinal segment during anterior instrumentation were measured in a series of patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.
Methods: A force transducer was designed and retrofit to a routinely used surgical tool, and compressive forces applied to each segment during surgery were measured for 15 scoliosis patients. Cobb angle correction achieved by each force was measured on intra-operative fluoroscope images. Relative changes in orientation of the screw within the vertebra were also measured to detect intra-operative screw plough.
Findings: Intra-operative forces were measured for a total of 95 spinal segments. The mean applied compressive force was 540N (SD 230N, range 88N-1019N). There was a clear trend for higher forces to be applied at segments toward the apex of the scoliosis. Fluoroscopic evidence of screw plough was detected at 10 segments (10.5%).
Interpretation: The magnitude of forces applied during anterior scoliosis correction vary over a broad range. These forces do reach magnitudes capable of causing intra-operative vertebral body screw plough. Surgeons should be aware there is a risk for tissue overload during correction, however the clinical implications of intra-operative screw plough remain unclear. The dataset presented here is valuable for providing realistic input parameters for in silico surgical simulations.
Keywords: Anterior scoliosis correction; In vivo measurements; Scoliosis; Spinal deformity; Spine; Thoracic spine.
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