Do Pedicle Screws That Terminate in the Costovertebral Joint Compromise Proximal Anchor Fixation in a Dual Growing Rod Construct?

Jeffrey Henstenburg, Yusuke Hori, Kenneth J. Rogers, Joseph L. Petfield, Suken A. Shah, Peter G. Gabos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Growing rods (GRs) are used to treat early-onset scoliosis (EOS) recalcitrant to bracing and casting. Proximal anchor pullout, a known complication of GR constructs, can result in spinal cord injury if pedicle screw anchors are placed with a lateral-to-medial trajectory. To mitigate this risk, a more straightforward and potentially safer trajectory may result in screws that terminate within the costovertebral joint (CVJ). We asked, how often does CVJ placement occur and does this technique increase the rate of failure in GR constructs? Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 35 patients with EOS treated with dual GR with >2-year follow-up excluding patients with skeletal dysplasia or history of previous posterior instrumentation. Patient demographics, radiographic parameters, and implant constructs were assessed. Results: Of patients meeting the inclusion criteria, 18/35 (51%) were females with an average age of 7.96 (range: 4.0 to 15.2) years at surgery with a follow-up of 3.7 (range: 2.0 to 7.7) years. Five (14%) patients had idiopathic EOS, 5 (14%) had congenital EOS, 12 (34%) had neuromuscular EOS, 10 (29%) had syndromic scoliosis, and 3 (9%) had another etiology for EOS. Among 195 proximal pedicle screws placed, 19 (10%) terminated within the CVJ, and 13 patients (37%) had at least 1 CVJ screw. Two patients (6%) experienced unilateral proximal pullout. In both patients, the anchors on the affected side included 1 of 2 screws within the CVJ. Both patients had constructs that included 2 screws on the side that pulled out and 3 screws on the side that did not. None of the remaining 17 CVJ screws led to implant failure. Conclusion: Pedicle screw placement within the CVJ is common and does not appear to significantly contribute to proximal screw pullout; however, it may contribute to unilateral implant failure in constructs employing only 2 proximal screws, where 1 of those 2 screws terminates within the CVJ. Construct modifications should be considered in this scenario. Level of Evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E151-E156
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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