Is intraoperative CT of posterior cervical spine instrumentation cost-effective and does it reduce complications?

Andrew C. Hecht, Steven M. Koehler, Janelle C. Laudone, Arthur Jenkins, Sheeraz Qureshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Symptomatic multilevel cervical myelopathy is often addressed using posterior decompression using two-dimensional fluoroscopy. Intraoperative three-dimensional fluoroscopy provides more accurate information on the position of instrumentation to prevent screw-related complications. Questions/purposes: We documented the incidence of hardware-related complications and evaluate cost-effectiveness when using intraoperative three-dimensional fluoroscopy (ISO-C CT) in posterior cervical spine surgery. Methods: Records from 87 patients who underwent posterior cervical decompression and instrumented fusion for multilevel cervical spondylosis with myelopathy were retrospectively reviewed. Patients in whom a lateral mass, pars, or pedicle screw was removed or revised based on intraoperative ISO-C CT was recorded. Cost analysis was performed using 2008 Medicare reimbursements and was compared against cost estimates for ISO-C CT. Results: Seven patients (8%) had screws changed based on the results of the three-dimensional fluoroscopy: 0.5% of lateral mass screws, 3.1% of thoracic pedicle screws, and 15% of C2 pars screws. No patients who had evaluation of hardware with the ISO-C CT required a return to surgery for complications secondary to hardware failure, malposition, or cutout. Conclusions: Cost savings are achieved if use of intraoperative ISO-C CT prevents eight patients from requiring a return to the operating room. If every malpositioned screw has the potential to be symptomatic, then 240 patients must have screws placed to be cost-effective. ISO-C CT can safely replace postoperative CT as the standard of care in patients undergoing posterior cervical spinal fusion. Level of Evidence: Level III, economic and decision analyses. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1041
Number of pages7
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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