Pedicle Screws versus Cortical Screws in Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery for Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: A systematic review and meta-analysis


A few meta-analyses have compared conventional pedicle screws (PS) with cortical bone trajectory-pedicle screws (cortical screw [CS]) in posterior lumbar fusion surgery. However, these studies did not control for diagnosis, which has been shown to impact surgical outcomes.


To compare PS with CS as a posterior fixation technique in posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) for degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS).

Study design:

Systematic review and meta-analysis METHODS: : We searched the Cochrane, Embase, and Medline databases for articles that compared postoperative outcomes between PS and CS for posterior stabilization in PLIF for DS with November 11, 2020, as the publication cutoff. The differences in primary and secondary outcome measures were calculated and analyzed for significance (p<0.05). All the reported means were pooled.


A total of 916 publications were assessed; 5 studies met all the study criteria. The fusion rates between PS and CS groups were not significantly different (p=0.41). Blood loss and operative time were significantly less in the CS group than the PS group (p=0.04 and 0.02, respectively), but the length of stay was not significantly different (p=0.08). The total complication rate was significantly less in CS group than that in PS group (p=0.002). The rates of adjacent segment pathology (ASP) and operation for ASP in the CS group were significantly less than the PS group (p=0.03 and 0.04, respectively).


Though CS and PS appear to have similar 1-year fusion rates and length of stay, there appears to lower blood loss and operative time with CS. Though encouraging, these findings were based on low-quality evidence from a small number of retrospective studies that are prone to bias.


Cortical bone trajectory; Cortical screw; Meta-analysis; Pedicle screw; Posterior lumbar fusion.

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