Retrospective single-surgeon study of prone versus lateral robotic pedicle screw placement: a CT-based assessment of accuracy

J Neurosurg Spine 39:490–497, 2023

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion including anterior-to-psoas oblique lumbar interbody fusion has conventionally relied on pedicle screw placement (PSP) for construct stabilization. Single-position surgery with lumbar interbody fusion in the lateral decubitus position with concomitant PSP has been associated with increased operative efficiency. What remains unclear is the accuracy of PSP with robotic guidance when compared with the more familiar prone patient positioning. The present study aimed to compare robot-assisted screw placement accuracy between patients with instrumentation placed in the prone and lateral positions.

METHODS The authors identified all consecutive patients treated with interbody fusion and PSP in the prone or lateral position by a single surgeon between January 2019 and October 2022. All pedicle screws placed were analyzed using CT scans to determine appropriate positioning according to the Gertzbein-Robbins classification grading system (grade C or worse was considered as a radiographically significant breach). Multivariate logistic regression models were constructed to identify risk factors for the occurrence of a radiographically significant breach.

RESULTS Eighty-nine consecutive patients (690 screws) were included, of whom 46 (477 screws) were treated in the prone position and 43 (213 screws) in the lateral decubitus position. There were fewer breaches in the prone (n = 13, 2.7%) than the lateral decubitus (n = 15, 7.0%) group (p = 0.012). Nine (1.9%) radiographically significant breaches occurred in the prone group compared with 10 (4.7%) in the lateral decubitus group (p = 0.019), for a prone versus lateral decubitus PSP accuracy rate of 98.1% versus 95.3%. There were no significant differences in BMI between prone versus lateral decubitus cohorts (30.1 vs 29.6) or patients with screw breach versus those without (31.2 vs 29.5). In multivariate models, the prone position was the only significant protective factor for screw accuracy; no other significant risk factors for screw breach were identified.

CONCLUSIONS The present data suggest that pedicle screws placed with robotic assistance have higher placement accuracy in the prone position. Further studies will be needed to validate the accuracy of PSP in the lateral position as single-position surgery becomes more commonplace in the treatment of spinal disorders.