Document Detail

Ball tip technique for thoracic pedicle screw placement in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20672962     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
OBJECT: The aim in this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the ball tip technique in placing thoracic pedicle screws (TPSs), as compared with the conventional freehand technique, in both a cadaveric study and a clinical study of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Although posterior spinal surgery using TPSs has been widely applied, these screws are associated with the potential risk of vascular, pulmonary, or neurological complications. To further enhance the accuracy and safety of TPS placement, the authors developed the ball tip technique. METHODS: After creating an appropriate starting point for probe insertion, a specially designed ball tip probe consisting of a ball-shaped tip with a flexible metal shaft is used to make a guide hole into the pedicle. Holding the probe with the fingertips while using an appropriate amount of pressure or by tapping it gently and continuously with a hammer, one can safely insert the ball tip probe into the cancellous channel in the pedicle. In a cadaveric study, 5 spine fellows with similar levels of experience in placing TPSs applied the ball tip or the conventional technique to place screws in 5 cadavers with no spinal deformities. The incidence of misplaced screws was evaluated by dissecting the spines. In a clinical study, 40 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis underwent posterior surgery with TPS placement via the ball tip or conventional technique (20 patients in each treatment group). The accuracy of the TPS placements was evaluated on postoperative axial CT scanning. RESULTS: In the cadaveric study, 100 TPSs were evaluated, and the incidence of misplaced screws was 14% in the ball tip group and 34% in the conventional group (p = 0.0192). In the clinical study, 574 TPSs were evaluated. One hundred seventy-one intrapedicular screws (67%) were recognized in the conventional group and 288 (90%) in the ball tip group (p < 0.01). In the conventional and ball tip groups, the respective numbers of TPSs with a pedicle breach of < or = 2 mm were 20 (8%) and 15 (5%), those with a pedicle breach of > 2 mm were 32 (13%) and 9 (3%; p < 0.01), and those located in the costovertebral joints were 32 (13%) and 7 (2%). CONCLUSIONS: In both cadaveric and clinical studies the ball tip technique enhanced the accuracy of TPS placement as compared with the conventional freehand technique. Thus, the ball tip technique is useful for the accurate and safe placement of TPSs in deformed spines.
Kota Watanabe; Morio Matsumoto; Takashi Tsuji; Ken Ishii; Hironari Takaishi; Masaya Nakamura; Yoshiaki Toyama; Kazuhiro Chiba
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Technical Report    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of neurosurgery. Spine     Volume:  13     ISSN:  1547-5646     ISO Abbreviation:  J Neurosurg Spine     Publication Date:  2010 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-08-02     Completed Date:  2010-08-23     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101223545     Medline TA:  J Neurosurg Spine     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  246-52     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Advanced Treatment for Spine and Spinal Cord Disorders, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
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MeSH Terms
Aged, 80 and over
Bone Screws*
Retrospective Studies
Scoliosis / radiography,  surgery*
Spinal Fusion / instrumentation*,  methods*
Surgical Instruments
Thoracic Vertebrae / radiography,  surgery*
Tomography, X-Ray Computed
Young Adult

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