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Fluoroscopic imaging overestimates the screw tip to subchondral bone distance in a cadaveric model of slipped capital femoral epiphysis
Heffernan MJ, Snyder B, Zhou H, Li X. Fluoroscopic imaging overestimates the screw tip to subchondral bone distance in a cadaveric model of slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Journal of Children’s Orthopaedics. 2017 Feb;11:36-41.
Purpose Intra-operative imaging plays a key role in screw placement for slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Complications have been associated with inadequate screw position. The purpose of this study was to evaluate computed tomography (CT) (3D fluoroscopy) and standard fluoroscopy (C-arm) images as compared with direct anatomic measurement to determine final screw position in a cadaveric SCFE model. Methods Osteotomy with pinning was performed at the physeal scar in ten cadaveric hips. A standardised approach-withdrawal technique was performed with C-arm images taken at 15° increments. We also obtained a CT (3D fluoroscopy) scan of each hip. The screw tip-subchondral bone (STSB) distance was measured on digital imaging software and also with a digital calliper directly when the femoral head was cut in plane to expose the STSB distance anatomically. Statistical analysis included t-tests and Fisher’s exact test. Results Moderate SCFE osteotomies were achieved with a mean Southwick angle (39.5° ± 7°). The 60° fluoroscopic image was found to be the most representative image (41% of the time) compared with both anteroposterior (AP) and lateral images (8% and 21%). Both fluoroscopy (2.7 ± 0.8 mm, p < 0.001) and CT (1.6 ± 0.7 mm, p = 0.03) overestimated the STSB distance compared with direct measurement (0.94 ± 0.51 mm). Two-thirds (67%) of CT measurements were within 1 mm of the cadaveric measurement, while only 20% of C-arm measurements fulfilled this criterion (p = 0.04). Conclusions Both standard fluoroscopy and CT overestimated the STSB distance when compared with direct measurement in a cadaveric model of SCFE. Surgeons should be aware of the limitations of intra-operative imaging to determine the STSB distance. We suggest that using the known pitch of a screw (2.9 mm in a 7.3-mm cannulated screw) as an intra-operative tool to help guide screw placement.