The pedicle screw (PS) is widely used for spinal fixation surgery. However, PS malpositioning can cause critical complications; thus, the accuracy of ascertaining PS trajectory is paramount. This study aimed to demonstrate the accuracy and safety of a simple and cost-effective PS placement technique using a human internal reference frame for angle estimation. Ex vivo lumbar porcine spine samples were fixed to a wooden board with rostrocaudal and mediolateral rotational angles adjusted by two angle vises. PS entry points (EPs) were identified using clear anatomical vertebral landmarks. PS placement was performed on one side using the perpendicular probing and screwing technique (PPST), wherein the attitude angle of the sample was adjusted such that the longitudinal axis of the target pedicle was perpendicular to the ground. The pedicle probe and PS driver were manually maintained perpendicular to the ground during probing and PS placement. PS placement on the contralateral side was performed freehand as a control. Offsets between the preoperatively planned and implanted PS rotational angles measured using computed tomography for PPST and freehand method were analyzed. Pedicle wall penetration was also evaluated. The mean ± standard error of the medial rotational offsets was 5.83̊ ± 0.57̊ in the freehand group versus 2.89̊ ± 0.31̊ in the PPST group (p <0.001), and the rostrocaudal rotational offsets were 4.81̊ ± 0.65̊ in the freehand group versus 2.92̊ ± 0.45̊ in the PPST group (p = 0.01). The mean pedicle wall penetration distance was significantly reduced by PPST (0.28 ± 0.12 mm vs 0.80 ± 0.17 mm in the freehand group, p = 0.0071). Thus, PPST improved PS positioning accuracy, resulting in reduced pedicle wall penetration and increased PS placement safety. This simple technique is also potentially cost-effective for institutions without computer-assisted surgical systems.
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