Accuracy of Robot-Assisted Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Placement under Regional Anesthesia: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Pain Res Manag. 2021 Dec 20;2021:6894001. doi: 10.1155/2021/6894001. eCollection 2021.


Background: Robot-assisted pedicle screw placement is usually performed under general anesthesia to keep the body still. The aim of this study was to compare the accuracy of the robot-assisted technique under regional anesthesia with that of conventional fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous pedicle screw placement under general anesthesia in minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery.

Methods: This study recruited patients who underwent robot-assisted percutaneous endoscopic lumbar interbody fusion (PELIF) or fluoroscopy-guided minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) between December 2017 and February 2020 at a single center. Based on the method of percutaneous pedicle screw placement used, patients were divided into the robot-assisted under regional anesthesia (group RE-RO) and fluoroscopy-guided under general anesthesia (group GE-FLU) groups. The primary outcome measures were screw accuracy and the incidence of facet joint violation (FJV). Secondary outcome measures included X-ray and visual analogue scale (VAS) scores which were used to evaluate the degree of the postoperative pain at 4 hours and on postoperative days 1, 2, and 3. Intraoperative adverse events were also recorded.

Results: Eighteen patients were included in group RE-RO, and 23 patients were included in group GE-FLU. The percentages of clinically acceptable screws (Gertzbein and Robbins grades A and B) were 94.4% and 91.5%, respectively. There was no significant difference in the percentages of clinically acceptable screws (p=0.44) or overall Gertzbein and Robbins screw accuracy grades (p=0.35). Only the top screws were included in the analysis of FJVs. The percentages of FJV (Babu grades 1, 2, and 3) were 5.6% and 28.3%, respectively. This difference was statistically significant (p=0.01). Overall, the FJV grades in group RE-RO were significantly better than those in group GE-FLU (p=0.009). The mean fluoroscopy time for each screw in group RE-RO was significantly shorter than that in group GE-FLU (group RE-RO: 5.4 ± 1.9 seconds and group GE-FLU: 6.8 ± 2.0 seconds; p=0.03). The postoperative pain between the RE-RO and GE-FLU groups was not statistically significant. The intraoperative adverse events included 1 case of registration failure and 1 case of guide-wire dislodgment in group RE-RO, as well as 2 cases of screw misplacement in group GE-FLU. No complications related to anesthesia were observed.

Conclusion: Robot-assisted pedicle screw placement under regional anesthesia can be performed effectively and safely. The accuracy is comparable to the conventional technique. Moreover, this technique has the advantage of fewer FJVs and a lower radiation time.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Conduction*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures
  • Pedicle Screws*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Robotic Surgical Procedures*
  • Robotics*
  • Spinal Fusion*