Complications associated with the technique of pedicle screw fixation. A selected survey of ABS members

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1993 Nov;18(15):2231-8; discussion 2238-9. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199311000-00015.


A limited survey analysis of 617 surgical cases in which pedicle screw implants were used was undertaken to ascertain the incidence and variety of associated complications. The different implant systems used included variable spinal plating (n = 249), Edwards (n = 143), and AO fixateur interne (n = 101). The most common intraoperative problem was unrecognized screw misplacement (5.2%). Fracturing of the pedicle during screw insertion and iatrogenic cerebrospinal fluid leak occurred in 4.2% of cases. The postoperative deep infection rate was 4.2%. Transient neuropraxia occurred in 2.4% of cases, and permanent nerve root injury occurred in 2.3% of cases. Previously unreported injury to nerve roots occurred late in the postoperative course in three cases. Screw breakage occurred in 2.9% of cases. All other complications had an incidence of less than 2%. The authors conclude that pedicle screw placement may be associated with significant intraoperative and postoperative complications. This information is of value to surgeons using pedicle implant systems as well as to their patients. Repeat surgery is associated with greater numbers of complications.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Screws / adverse effects*
  • Data Collection
  • Equipment Failure
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internal Fixators / adverse effects*
  • Intraoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery
  • Spinal Injuries / surgery
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / injuries
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires