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J Orthop Res. 2015 Feb;33(2):277-82. doi: 10.1002/jor.22739. Epub 2014 Sep 17.

Transsacral screw safe zone size by sacral segmentation variations.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Michigan, 1500 E Medical Center Dr, 2912 Taubmann Center, SPC 5328, Ann Arbor, 48109, Michigan.


Variations in sacral segmentation may preclude safe placement of transsacral screws for posterior pelvis fixation. We developed a novel automated 3D technique to determine the safe zone size for transsacral screws in the upper two sacral segments in 526 adult pelvis computed tomography scans. Safe zone sizes were then compared by gender and sacral segmentation variations (number of neuroforamen and the presence/absence of lumbosacral transitional vertebrae, ± LSTV). Ten millimeters was used as the safety threshold for a large screw. 3 (0.6%), 366 (70%), and 157 (30%) sacra had 3, 4, or 5 neuroforamen, respectively. Eighty-eight (17%) were +LSTV. Safe zone size depended on gender, number of neuroforamen in -LSTV sacra and presence of LSTV (p < 0.001) but not on the uni- or bilateral nature of the LSTV. 17% of -LSTV sacra were below the safety threshold in S1, 27% in S2, whereas 3% of +LSTV sacra were below in S1, 74% in S2. Of -LSTV sacra that cannot take an S1 screw safely, 77% can do so in S2, leaving only 4% of sacra that cannot accommodate a screw safely in either upper segment. The results demonstrate a predictable pattern of safe zone size based on gender and sacral segmentation variations.


lumbosacral transitional vertebrae; sacral dysmorphism; sacral safe zone; sacral segmentation; transsacral screw

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