Thoracic Pedicle Screws

Thoracic pedicle screws are specialized implantable devices utilized by surgeons to help correct spinal deformities. Dr. Lenke is a pioneer in the use of thoracic pedicle screws. He has used pedicle screws since the mid-1990s, which are now widely accepted. In addition, he teaches other surgeons and clinicians about their safe and effective use at national and international meetings for spine professionals.

What is a thoracic pedicle screw?

A thoracic pedicle screw is a type of surgical screw that is implanted into one of the pedicles in the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is behind the rib cage, below the neck and above the low back. At the back of your spine, two small finger-like bones project off the back of each vertebral body; one pedicle on the left side and one on the right. Thoracic pedicle screws are designed to screw into the bony projections.

A Video Demonstrating the Pedicle Screw

Why would a thoracic pedicle screw be used?

Different types of implants (e.g., thoracic pedicle screws, rods) are sometimes used in spinal surgery to help fix the spine into a more normal position and stabilize a specific area of the spinal column. Typically, such implants are utilized to surgically correct deformities such as scoliosis or kyphosis.

In the past, a system of hooks and rods were used to treat severe and progressive scoliosis or kyphosis. Unfortunately, the hook-and-rod system was not ideal, because the amount of curve correction that could be achieved was limited. In addition, sometimes the hook-and-rod implants wore out over time.

How does the thoracic pedicle screw system work?

Thoracic pedicle screws are part of a fixation system that includes flexible, malleable rods designed to be attached to the screws. Pedicle screws can attach rods to the front, middle, and rear sections of a vertebra. The surgeon can safely apply more force to help correct the abnormal curvature and provide a more stable construct as compared to the hook-and-rod system.

What are some advantages of the thoracic pedicle screw system?

Advantages of thoracic pedicle screws as compared to the hook-and-rod system includes:

  • Thoracic pedicle screws can traverse all three areas of the vertebra (front, middle, rear), and enable the surgeon to safely exert more force on the fixation system to help correct a spinal deformity.
  • Thoracic pedicle screws offer greater stabilization of the spine.
  • Thoracic pedicle screws have been shown to maintain spinal correction for a longer time period than older systems (i.e., hooks-and-rod system).
  • In some cases, thoracic pedicle screws may eliminate the need for anterior surgery. Anterior surgery accesses the spine from the front of the body. Eliminating the need for anterior surgery may help reduce surgical time, simplify the surgery, and reduce the risk for potential surgical complications.
  • Thoracic pedicle screws may be more resistant to “wear and tear??? than older systems.

Who should consider spinal surgery using thoracic pedicle screws?

If Dr. Lenke recommends spinal surgery using thoracic pedicle screws, he will thoroughly discuss their use with you, including potential risks and benefits. Thoracic pedicle screw fixation is not appropriate for every patient.