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General Orthopaedics


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) and Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society (CORS) Annual General Meeting, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, 8–11 June 2022. Part 1 of 2.


Neuromuscular scoliosis patients face rates of major complications of up to 49%. Along with pre-operative risk reduction strategies (including nutritional and bone health optimization), intra-operative strategies to decrease blood loss and decrease surgical time may help mitigate these risks. A major contributor to blood loss and surgical time is the insertion of instrumentation which is challenging in neuromuscular patient given their abnormal vertebral and pelvic anatomy. Standard pre-operative radiographs provide minimal information regarding pedicle diameter, length, blocks to pedicle entry (e.g. iliac crest overhang), or iliac crest orientation. To minimize blood loss and surgical time, we developed an “ultra-low dose” CT protocol without sedation for neuromuscular patients.

Our prospective quality improvement study aimed to determine:

  1. if ultra-low dose CT without sedation was feasible given the movement disorders in this population;

  2. what the radiation exposure was compared to standard pre-operative imaging;

  3. whether the images allowed accurate assessment of the anatomy and intra-operative navigation given the ultra-low dose and potential movement during the scan.

Fifteen non-ambulatory surgical patients with neuromuscular scoliosis received the standard spine XR and an ultra-low dose CT scan. Charts were reviewed for etiology of neuromuscular scoliosis and medical co-morbidities. The CT protocol was a high-speed, high-pitch, tube-current modulated acquisition at a fixed tube voltage. Adaptive statistical iterative reconstruction was applied to soft-tissue and bone kernels to mitigate noise. Radiation dose was quantified using reported dose indices (computed tomography dose index (CTDIvol) and dose-length product (DLP)) and effective dose (E), calculated through Monte-Carlo simulation. Statistical analysis was completed using a paired student's T-test (α= 0.05). CT image quality was assessed for its use in preoperative planning and intraoperative navigation using 7D Surgical System Spine Module (7D Surgical, Toronto, Canada).

Eight males and seven females were included in the study. Their average age (14±2 years old), preoperative Cobb angle (95±21 degrees), and kyphosis (60±18 degrees) were recorded. One patient was unable to undergo the ultra-low dose CT protocol without sedation due to a co-diagnosis of severe autism. The average XR radiation dose was 0.5±0.3 mSv. Variability in radiographic dose was due to a wide range in patient size, positioning (supine, sitting), number of views, imaging technique and body habitus. Associated CT radiation metrics were CTDIvol = 0.46±0.14 mGy, DLP = 26.2±8.1 mGy.cm and E = 0.6±0.2 mSv. CT radiation variability was due to body habitus and arm orientation. The radiation dose differences between radiographic and CT imaging were not statistically significant. All CT scans had adequate quality for preoperative assessment of pedicle diameter and orientation, obstacles impeding pedicle entry, S2-Alar screw orientation, and intra-operative navigation.

“Ultra-low dose” CT scans without sedation were feasible in paediatric patients with neuromuscular scoliosis. The effective dose was similar between the standard preoperative spinal XR and “ultra-low dose” CT scans. The “ultra-low dose” CT scan allowed accurate assessment of the anatomy, aided in pre-operative planning, and allowed intra-operative navigation despite the movement disorders in this patient population.