To assess the impact of screw density on: (1) rod fracture/pseudarthrosis, (2) proximal/distal junctional kyphosis/failure (PJK/DJK/PJF), and (3) deformity correction judged by sagittal vertical axis (SVA) and T1-pelvic angle (T1PA).
A single-center, retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery from 2013 to 2017 was undertaken. Screw density was calculated by dividing the number of screws placed by the total instrumented levels. Screw density was then dichotomized at our calculated mean density to ≥ 1.65 and < 1.65. Outcomes consisted of mechanical complications and the amount of correction obtained.
145 patients underwent ASD surgery with 2-year follow-up. Mean screw density (range) was 1.6 ± 0.3 (1.00-2.00). The most common levels with missing screws were L2 (n = 59, 40.7%), L3 (n = 57, 39.3%) and L1 (n = 51, 35.2%), located mainly along the concavity in 113(80.0%) patients and apices in 98 (67.6%) patients. Rod fracture/pseudarthrosis: 23/32 (71.8%) patients with rod fracture and 35/46 (76.0%) with pseudarthrosis had missing screws within two levels of the rod fracture/pseudarthrosis. Logistic regression showed no significant association between screw density and rod fracture/pseudarthrosis.
15/47 (31.9%) patients with PJK and 9/30 (30.0%) with PJF had missing screws within three levels of the upper instrumented vertebra (UIV). Logistic regression showed no significant association between screws density and PJK/F. Correction obtained: linear regression failed to show any significant association between screw density and SVA or T1PA correction.
These findings showed that no significant association was found between screw density and mechanical complications or the amount of correction obtained, though approximately 3 out of 4 patients with rod fracture/pseudarthrosis had missing screws at or within two levels of the pathology. The prevention of mechanical complications is likely multifactorial and subject to both patient’s characteristics and surgical techniques.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Scoliosis Research Society.