Spinal intraoperative three-dimensional navigation: correlation between clinical and absolute engineering accuracy
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BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Spinal intraoperative computer-assisted navigation (CAN) may guide pedicle screw placement. Computer-assisted navigation techniques have been reported to reduce pedicle screw breach rates across all spinal levels. However, definitions of screw breach vary widely across studies, if reported at all. The absolute quantitative error of spinal navigation systems is theoretically a more precise and generalizable metric of navigation accuracy. It has also been computed variably and reported in less than a quarter of clinical studies of CAN-guided pedicle screw accuracy. PURPOSE: This study aimed to characterize the correlation between clinical pedicle screw accuracy, based on postoperative imaging, and absolute quantitative navigation accuracy. DESIGN/SETTING: This is a retrospective review of a prospectively collected cohort. PATIENT SAMPLE: We recruited 30 patients undergoing first-time posterior cervical-thoracic-lumbar-sacral instrumented fusion±decompression, guided by intraoperative three-dimensional CAN. OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical or radiographic screw accuracy (Heary and 2 mm classifications) and absolute quantitative navigation accuracy (translational and angular error in axial and sagittal planes). METHODS: We reviewed a prospectively collected series of 209 pedicle screws placed with CAN guidance. Each screw was graded clinically by multiple independent raters using the Heary and 2 mm classifications. Clinical grades were dichotomized per convention. The absolute accuracy of each screw was quantified by the translational and angular error in each of the axial and sagittal planes. RESULTS: Acceptable screw accuracy was achieved for significantly fewer screws based on 2 mm grade versus Heary grade (92.6% vs. 95.1%, p=.036), particularly in the lumbar spine. Inter-rater agreement was good for the Heary classification and moderate for the 2 mm grade, significantly greater among radiologists than surgeon raters. Mean absolute translational-angular accuracies were 1.75 mm-3.13° and 1.20 mm-3.64° in the axial and sagittal planes, respectively. There was no correlation between clinical and absolute navigation accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: Radiographic classifications of pedicle screw accuracy vary in sensitivity across spinal levels, as well as in inter-rater reliability. Correlation between clinical screw grade and absolute navigation accuracy is poor, as surgeons appear to compensate for navigation registration error. Future studies of navigation accuracy should report absolute translational and angular errors. Clinical screw grades based on postoperative imaging may be more reliable if performed in multiple by radiologist raters.
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