STUDY DESIGN.: Retrospective review. OBJECTIVE.: To determine the safety of pedicle screws placed in infantile and juvenile patients younger than 10 years of age, and to evaluate the accuracy and the incidence of short and long-term (>2-year follow-up) complications for the screws and construct utilized. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Although much has been written regarding the use of pedicle screws for the treatment of adult and adolescent spinal deformities, few studies have examined complication rates with regard to pedicle screws placed for pediatric spinal deformities in patients younger than 10 years of age. METHODS.: Eighty-eight patients treated with 948 pedicle screws placed for a variety of pediatric spinal deformities were performed at a single institution. We evaluated the accuracy of pedicle screw placement via radiographic review by two spinal surgeons not involved in the surgical treatment. RESULTS.: The average age at surgery was 6.8 year (range, 1 + 11 to 9 + 11 year). Five hundred ninety-four pedicle screws were placed in the thoracic spine and 354 screws in the lumbar spine. Three screws (0.32%) violated the lateral wall of the pedicle, two screws (0.21%) violated the inferior wall, and three screws (0.32%) were suspected of medial wall violation for a total of eight screws (0.84%) malpositioned. Although short-term complications occurred in nine patients (10.2%) (four-wound infection, two-foot drop, two-respiratory problems, first-sixth cranial nerve palsy), there were no insertion or short-term complications specifically related to the use of pedicle screws. Long-term complications occurred in nine patients (10.2%) (three-deformity progression, four-growing rod breakage), whereas two patients required revision surgery because of pullout and prominence of proximal thoracic pedicle screws (n = 4) placed in growing rod constructs (2.3% of patients, 0.4% of screws). CONCLUSION.: There were no intraoperative or short-term pedicle screw insertion-related complications and a very low long-term complication rate (2.3% of patients, 0.4% of screws) specifically related to the use of pedicle screws in infantile and juvenile spinal deformity patients. More than 99% of screws were accurately placed.
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