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J Neurosurg Spine. 2010 Nov;13(5):600-5. doi: 10.3171/2010.5.SPINE09536.

Stimulus-evoked electromyography testing of percutaneous pedicle screws for the detection of pedicle breaches: a clinical study of 409 screws in 93 patients.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA. mwang2@med.miami.edu

Abstract

OBJECT:

Percutaneous pedicle screws have recently become popularized for lumbar spinal fixation. However, successful anatomical hardware placement is highly dependent on intraoperative imaging. In traditional open surgery, stimulus-evoked electromyography (EMG) responses can be useful for detecting pedicle screw breaches. The use of insulated sleeves for percutaneous screws has allowed for EMG testing in minimally invasive surgery; however, no reports on the reliability of this testing modality have been published.

METHODS:

A total of 409 lumbar percutaneous pedicle screws were placed in 93 patients. Levels of instrumentation included L-1 (in 12 patients), L-2 (in 34), L-3 (in 44), L-4 (in 120), L-5 (in 142), and S-1 (in 57 patients). Intraoperative EMG stimulation thresholds were obtained using insulating sleeves over a metallic tap prior to final screw placement. Data were compared with postoperative fine-cut CT scans to assess pedicle screw placement. Data were collected prospectively and analyzed retrospectively.

RESULTS:

There were 5 pedicle breaches (3 medial and 2 lateral; 3 Grade 1 and 2 Grade 2 breaches) visualized on postoperative CT scans (1.2%). Two of these breaches were symptomatic. In 2 instances, intraoperative thresholds were the sole basis for screw trajectory readjustment, which resulted in proper placement on postoperative imaging. Thirty-five screw trajectories were associated with a threshold of less than 12 mA. However, all breaches were associated with thresholds of greater than 12 mA. Using thresholds below 12 mA as the indicator of a screw breach, this resulted in a sensitivity of 0.0, specificity of 90.3, positive predictive value of 0.0, and negative predictive value of 0.98. Utilizing a threshold of any decreased stimulus (< 20 mA) would have detected 60% of breaches, with a mean threshold of 16.25 mA.

CONCLUSIONS:

While these data are limited by the low number of radiographic breaches, it appears that tap stimulation with an insulating sleeve may not be reliable for detecting low-grade radiographically breached pedicles using typical stimulation thresholds (< 12 mA). Imaging-based modalities remain more reliable for assessing percutaneous pedicle screw trajectories until more robust and sensitive electrophysiological testing methods can be devised.

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PMID:
21039151
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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