The Feasibility of Translaminar Screws in the Subaxial Cervical Spine: Computed Tomography and Cadaveric Validation

Woojin Cho, Jason T. Le, Adam L. Shimer, Brian C. Werner, John A. Glaser, Francis H. Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The use of translaminar screws may serve as a viable salvage method for complicated cases. To our understanding, the study of the feasibility of translaminar screw insertion in the actual entire subaxial cervical spine has not been carried out yet. The purpose of this study was to report the feasibility of translaminar screw insertion in the entire subaxial cervical spine. Methods: Eighteen cadaveric spines were harvested from C3 to C7 and 1-mm computed tomography (CT) scans and three-dimen-sional reconstructions were created to exclude any bony anomaly. Thirty anatomically intact segments were collected (C3, 2; C4, 3; C5, 3; C6, 8; and C7, 14), and randomly arranged. Twenty-one segments were physically separated at each vertebral level (group S), while 9 segments were not separated from the vertebral column and left in situ (group N–S). CT measurement of lamina thickness was done for both group S and group N–S, and manual measurement of various length and angle was done for group S only. Using the trajectory proposed by the previous studies, translaminar screws were placed at each level. Screw diameter was the same or 0.5 mm larger than the proposed diameter based on CT measurement. Post-insertion CT was performed. Cortical breakage was checked either visually or by CT. Results: When 1° and 2° screws of the same size were used, medial cortex breakage was found 13% and 33% of the time, re-spectively. C7 was relatively safer than the other levels. With larger-sized screws, medial cortex breakage was found in 47% and 46% of 1° and 2° screws, respectively. There were no facet injuries due to the screws in group N–S. Conclusions: Translaminar screw insertion in the subaxial cervical spine is feasible only when the lamina is thick enough to avoid any breakage that could lead to further complications. The authors do not recommend inserting translaminar screws in the subaxial cervical spine except in some salvage cases in the presence of a thick lamina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalClinics in Orthopedic Surgery
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Cadaver
  • Feasibility
  • Subaxial cervical spine
  • Translaminar screws
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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