Sacral Alar Iliac (SAI) Screws Fail 75% Less Frequently Than Iliac Screws in Neuromuscular Scoliosis

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Abstract

Background:

Despite recent popularity of sacral alar iliac (SAI) screws for fusion to the pelvis for neuromuscular scoliosis, there are little data regarding the failure rate of this technique compared with traditional modes of iliac fixation. Theoretical advantages of the SAI screws are obviating the need for a rod to iliac screw connector and a lower implant profile. The purpose of this study is to determine whether SAI screws have fewer failures than iliac screws in neuromuscular scoliosis.

Methods:

Review of neuromuscular patients treated with posterior spinal fusion with pelvic fixation from 2004 to 2012 with minimum 2-year follow-up was conducted. Medical records and imaging studies were reviewed. Patients were divided into 2 groups based on the type of pelvic fixation (SAI or iliac screws), and implant failures were compared between the groups.

Results:

A total of 101 patients were reviewed, including 55 patients with iliac screws and 46 patients with SAI screws. Implant failures included: disengagement of the rod to iliac screw connector (10%, 10/101), separation of screw head from screw shaft (4%, 4/101), and set screw disengagement (2%, 2/101). The SAI group had a lower implant failure rate (7%, 3/46) compared with the iliac screw group (24%, 13/55) (P=0.031). Rod to iliac screw connectors failed in 18% (10/55) of patients. There were significantly less surgical revisions in the SAI group (2%, 1/46) for pelvic screw prominence compared with the iliac screw group (11%, 6/55) (P=0.027).

Conclusions:

SAI screws had a lower rate of implant failure and revision surgery compared with iliac screws. If rod to screw connector failures are excluded, the failure rate of SAI screws of 6.5% (3/46) is similar to that of iliac screws 5.5% (3/55); therefore, the most important advantage of the SAI technique may be obviating the need for a screw to rod connector.

Level of Evidence:

Level III.

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