Pedicle screw fixation in spinal disorders: a European view

Eur Spine J. 1997;6(1):2-18. doi: 10.1007/BF01676569.


Continuing controversy over the use of pedicular fixation in the United States is promoted by the lack of governmental approval for the marketing of these devices due to safety and efficacy concerns. These implants have meanwhile become an invaluable part of spinal instrumentation in Europe. With regard to the North American view, there is a lack of comprehensive reviews that consider the historical evolution of pedicle screw systems, the rationales for their application, and the clinical outcome from a European perspective. This literature review suggests that pedicular fixation is a relatively safe procedure and is not associated with a significantly higher complication risk than non-pedicular instrumentation. Pedicle screw fixation provides short, rigid segmental stabilization that allows preservation of motion segments and stabilization of the spine in the absence of intact posterior elements, which is not possible with non-pedicular instrumentation. Fusion rates and clinical outcome in the treatment of thoracolumbar fractures appear to be superior to that achieved using other forms of treatment. For the correction of spinal deformity (i.e., scoliosis, kyphosis, spondylolisthesis, tumor), pedicular fixation provides the theoretical benefit of rigid segmental fixation and of facilitated deformity correction by a posterior approach, but the clinical relevance so far remains unknown. In low-back pain disorders, a literature analysis of 5,600 cases of lumbar fusion with different techniques reveals a trend that pedicle screw fixation enhances the fusion rate but not clinical outcome. The most striking finding in the literature is the large range in the radiological and clinical results. For every single fusion technique poor and excellent results have been described. This review argues that European spine surgeons should begin to back up the evident benefits of pedicle screw systems for specific spinal disorders by controlled prospective clinical trials. This may prevent forthcoming medical licensing authorities from restricting the use of pedicle screw devices and dictating the practice of spinal surgery in Europe in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone Screws* / adverse effects
  • Bone Screws* / trends
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Orthopedics / trends
  • Safety
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery*