Is the Implant in Bone? The Accuracy of CT and Fluoroscopic Imaging for Detecting Malpositioned Pelvic Screw and SI Fusion Implants

Jose E. San Miguel-Ruiz, David Polly, Melissa Albersheim, Jonathan Sembrano, Takashi Takahashi, Paul Lender, Christopher T. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Spine fusions to the pelvis have been associated with increased strain to the sacroiliac joint (SI) and possibly continued postoperative low back pain. To minimize this, concomitant SI joint fusion at the time of lumbopelvic fixation has been advocated. This requires concomitant placement of sacral alar iliac screws (S2AI) for lumbopelvic fixation and triangular titanium rods (TTR) for the SI joint fusion. Traditionally, surgeons have mostly relied on fluoroscopic images to confirm final implant position and patient safety after pelvic instrumentation, although computer tomography (CT) has also been used. Methods: We wanted to know which imaging modality, if any, was superior in helping to identify malpositioned implants during concomitant lumbopelvic fixation and SI joint fusion. We instrumented pelvic sawbones models with S2AI screws, TTR's, or both in the correct anatomic positions or malpositioned variants that led to known cortical breaches. Pelvic models were then imaged with fluoroscopy and CT, and the images assessed by blinded reviewers (spine surgeons and a musculoskeletal radiologist) for the presence of cortical breaches, the identity of the breached implant, and its direction. The responses of the blinded reviewers were then compared to the known position of the implants and Kappa coefficient calculated to determine agreement. Results: We found that thorough evaluation of implant position with multiple fluoroscopic views (kappa 0.641) or CT imaging (kappa 0.906) allowed reviewers to assess implant position, identity, and breach direction. Conclusion: These findings suggest that intraoperative CT imaging allows surgeons to make the best decision regarding implant position prior to leaving the operating room, thus potentially improving patient safety and unplanned returns to the operating room.Level of Evidence: V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalThe Iowa orthopaedic journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Iowa Orthopaedic Journal 2021.


  • SI joint fusion
  • intraoperative CT
  • sacral alar 2 iliac screws
  • spinopelvic fixation
  • triangular titanium rods


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