Carbon fiber-reinforced PEEK versus titanium implants: an in vitro comparison of susceptibility artifacts in CT and MR imaging

Neurosurg Rev. 2021 Aug;44(4):2163-2170. doi: 10.1007/s10143-020-01384-2. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Artifacts in computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to titanium implants in spine surgery are known to cause difficulties in follow-up imaging, radiation planning, and precise dose delivery in patients with spinal tumors. Carbon fiber-reinforced polyetheretherketon (CFRP) implants aim to reduce these artifacts. Our aim was to analyze susceptibility artifacts of these implants using a standardized in vitro model. Titanium and CFRP screw-rod phantoms were embedded in 3% agarose gel. Phantoms were scanned with Siemens Somatom AS Open and 3.0-T Siemens Skyra scanners. Regions of interest (ROIs) were plotted and analyzed for CT and MRI at clinically relevant localizations. CT voxel-based imaging analysis showed a significant difference of artifact intensity and central overlay between titanium and CFRP phantoms. For the virtual regions of the spinal canal, titanium implants (ti) presented - 30.7 HU vs. 33.4 HU mean for CFRP (p < 0.001), at the posterior margin of the vertebral body 68.9 HU (ti) vs. 59.8 HU (CFRP) (p < 0.001) and at the anterior part of the vertebral body 201.2 HU (ti) vs. 70.4 HU (CFRP) (p < 0.001), respectively. MRI data was only visually interpreted due to the low sample size and lack of an objective measuring system as Hounsfield units in CT. CT imaging of the phantom with typical implant configuration for thoracic stabilization could demonstrate a significant artifact reduction in CFRP implants compared with titanium implants for evaluation of index structures. Radiolucency with less artifacts provides a better interpretation of follow-up imaging, radiation planning, and more precise dose delivery.

Keywords: Carbon fiber–reinforced PEEK; Imaging; Pedicle screws; Spine surgery; Susceptibility artifacts; Titanium.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Benzophenones
  • Bone Screws
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Polymers
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Titanium*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Benzophenones
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Polymers
  • polyetheretherketone
  • Titanium