Long-Term Results of Lumbar Fusion with Pedicle Screws
You've probably heard the saying, "They really put the screws to that guy." That's what happens to some patients with a lumbar spinal fusion. Pedicle screw fixation (PSF) is one way to help fuse the spine. The pedicle is a bridge of bone in the vertebral arch around the spinal cord. In PSF, screws go through the bone to hold it in place.
Doctors have used pedicle screws since the 1960s. The screws increase how stiff or rigid the spine is at that level. This study looks at the long-term results of fusion with PSF.
Why study this issue? Because PSF has used by many doctors for over 40 years with very little information about the results years later. There have also been questions about possible bone loss around the fused segment. This study reports results after 10 to 15 years for 94 adults who had fusing with PSF.
At least 80 percent of the patients were pleased with the results. Pain and physical function were used as measures of outcome. Doctors report a low rate of failure based on X-ray findings. They also say that improved function 10 years later in patients over 50 years of age is an impressive result.
The authors conclude that PSF is a good method to use when fusing the lumbar spine. Patients get better and have more function even many years later.
John Glaser, MD, et al. A 10-Year Follow-up Evaluation of Lumbar Spine Fusion with Pedicle Screw Fixation. In Spine. July 1, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 13. Pp. 1390-1395.