The goal of this study was to compare the clinical and radiological outcomes between fenestrated pedicle screws augmented with cement and expandable pedicle screws in percutaneous vertebral fixation surgical procedures for the treatment of degenerative and traumatic spinal diseases in aging patients with osteoporosis.
This was a prospective, single-center study. Twenty patients each in the expandable and cement-augmented screw groups were recruited. Clinical outcomes included visual analog scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and satisfaction rates. Radiographic outcomes comprised radiological measurements on the vertebral motion segment of the treated levels. Intraoperative data including complications were collected. All patients completed the clinical and radiological outcomes. Outcomes were compared preoperatively and postoperatively.
An average shorter operative time was found in procedures in which expandable screws were used versus those in which cement-augmented screws were used (p < 0.001). No differences resulted in perioperative blood loss between the 2 groups. VAS and ODI scores were significantly improved in both groups after surgery. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups with respect to baseline VAS or ODI scores. The satisfaction rate of both groups was more than 85%. Radiographic outcomes also showed no significant difference in segment stability between the 2 groups. No major complications after surgery were seen. There were 4 cases (20%) of approach-related complications, all in fenestrated screw procedures in which asymptomatic cement extravasations were observed. In 1 case the authors detected a radiologically evident osteolysis around a cement-augmented screw 36 months after surgery. In another case they identified a minor loosening of an expandable screw causing local back discomfort at the 3-year follow-up.
Expandable pedicle screws and polymethylmethacrylate augmentation of fenestrated screws are both safe and effective techniques to increase the pullout strength of screws placed in osteoporotic spine. In this series, clinical and radiological outcomes were equivalent between the 2 groups. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report comparing the cement augmentation technique versus expandable screws in the treatment of aging patients with osteoporosis.