Inserting pedicle screws in the upper thoracic spine without the use of fluoroscopy or image guidance. Is it safe?

Constantin Schizas, Nicolas Theumann, Victor Kosmopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Several studies have looked at accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement using fluoroscopy, image guidance, and anatomical landmarks. To our knowledge the upper thoracic spine (T1-T6) has not been specifically studied in the context of screw insertion and placement accuracy without the use of either image guidance or fluoroscopy. Our objective was to study the accuracy of upper thoracic screw placement without the use of fluoroscopy or image guidance, and report on implant related complications. A single surgeon inserted 60 screws in 13 consecutive non-scoliotic spine patients. These were the first 60 screws placed in the high thoracic spine in our institution. The most common diagnosis in our patient population was trauma. All screws were inserted using a modified Roy-Camille technique. Post-operative axial computed tomography (CT) images were obtained for each patient and analyzed by an independent senior radiologist for placement accuracy. Implant related complications were prospectively noted. No pedicle screw misplacement was found in 61.5% of the patients. In the remaining 38.5% of patients some misplacements were noted. Fifty-three screws out of the total 60 implanted were placed correctly within all the pedicle margins. The overall pedicle screw placement accuracy was 88.3% using our modified Roy-Camille technique. Five medial and two lateral violations were noted in the seven misplaced screws. One of the seven misplaced screws was considered to be questionable in terms of pedicle perforation. No implant related complications were noted. We found that inserting pedicle screws in the upper thoracic spine based solely on anatomical landmarks was safe with an accuracy comparable to that of published studies using image-guided navigation at the thoracic level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-629
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Imaging studies
  • Pedicle screws
  • Spine surgery
  • Thoracic spine


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