Electromagnetic Navigation in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: Results of a Cadaveric Study to Evaluate Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Insertion

Justin F. Fraser, Ron Von Jako, John A. Carrino, Roger Härtl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: This cadaveric study compared efficacy and safety of an electromagnetic (EM) guidance system versus conventional fluoroscopy for percutaneous pedicle screw fixation. As percutaneous pedicle screw fixation becomes increasingly common in spinal surgery, intraoperative imaging systems that maximize efficiency while minimizing radiation exposure and inaccurate trajectories will be progressively more important. Published studies have validated the safety of percutaneous screw fixation using conventional fluoroscopic guidance and frameless optical stereotaxy, though EM guidance systems have not been evaluated for percutaneous placement in the lumbosacral spine. The aim of the study was to evaluate the clinical applicability of an EM system for minimally invasive spine fusion in the lumbosacral spine. Methods: Five human cadaveric specimens underwent bilateral lumbosacral percutaneous screw fixation from L1 to S1 using conventional anteroposterior (AP) and lateral fluoroscopic techniques on one side and 2-dimesional (2D) EM guidance on each matching side. Intraoperative efficiency was evaluated, and pedicle, vertebral, and critical breach rates were assessed on postoperative computed tomography (CT). Results: Overall mean fluoroscopy time per screw was 58.9 ± 44.7 seconds for conventional fluoroscopy compared to 27.4 ± 13.5 seconds for electromagnetic guidance (P = .0003). Pedicle, vertebral, and critical breach rates for the L1-S1 were 32.1%, 10.7%, and 25.0% for conventional fluoroscopy and 42.8%, 10.7%, and 14.1% for electromagnetic guidance (difference not statistically significant [ns]). In comparing critical breaches in the lumbar spine (L1-L5), there was a significant difference between 2-D EM guidance (0) and CF guidance (6) (P = .02). Conclusions: Two-dimensional EM navigation provides a modality for lumbosacral percutaneous pedicle screw fixation that is more efficient and safer than conventional fluoroscopy. This data provides a foundation for further clinical trials of this technology. Level of Evidence: Level 5 - Bench Research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalSAS Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008


  • Minimally invasive spine fusion
  • electromagnetic guidance
  • percutaneous pedicle screw fixation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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