History of Retractor Technologies for Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Fixation Systems

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Abstract

Minimally invasive techniques aimed at minimizing surgery-associated risk and morbidity of spinal surgery have increased in popularity in recent years. Their potential advantages include reduced length of hospital stay, blood loss, and requirement for post-operative analgesia and earlier return to work. One such minimally invasive technique is the use of percutaneous pedicle screw fixation, which is paramount for promoting rigid and stable constructs and fusion in the context of trauma, tumors, deformity and degenerative disease. Percutaneous pedicle screw insertion can be an intimidating prospect for surgeons who have only been trained in open techniques. One of the ongoing challenges of this percutaneous system is to provide the surgeon with adequate access to the pedicle entry anatomy and adequate tactile or visual feedback concerning the position and anatomy of the rod and set-screw construct. This review article discusses the history and evolution of percutaneous pedicle screw retractor technologies and outlines the advances over the last decade in the rapidly expanding field of minimal access surgery for posterior pedicle screw based spinal stabilization. As indications for percutaneous pedicle screw techniques expand, the nuances of the minimally invasive surgery techniques and associated technologies will also multiply. It is important that experienced surgeons have access to tools that can improve access with a greater degree of ease, simplicity and safety. We here discuss the technical challenges of percutaneous pedicle screw retractor technologies and a variety of systems with a focus on the pros and cons of various retractor systems.

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