How Does Patient Radiation Exposure Compare with Low-dose O-arm Versus Fluoroscopy for Pedicle Screw Placement in Idiopathic Scoliosis?

Alvin W. Su, Amy L. McIntosh, Beth A. Schueler, Todd A. Milbrandt, Jennifer A. Winkler, Anthony A. Stans, A. Noelle Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Intraoperative C-arm fluoroscopy and low-dose O-arm are both reasonable means to assist in screw placement for idiopathic scoliosis surgery. Both using pediatric low-dose O-arm settings and minimizing the number of radiographs during C-arm fluoroscopy guidance decrease patient radiation exposure and its deleterious biological effect that may be associated with cancer risk. We hypothesized that the radiation dose for C-arm-guided fluoroscopy is no less than low-dose O-arm scanning for placement of pedicle screws. Methods: A multicenter matched-control cohort study of 28 patients in total was conducted. Fourteen patients who underwent O-arm-guided pedicle screw insertion for spinal fusion surgery in 1 institution were matched to another 14 patients who underwent C-arm fluoroscopy guidance in the other institution in terms of the age of surgery, body weight, and number of imaged spine levels. The total effective dose was compared. A low-dose pediatric protocol was used for all O-arm scans with an effective dose of 0.65 mSv per scan. The effective dose of C-arm fluoroscopy was determined using anthropomorphic phantoms that represented the thoracic and lumbar spine in anteroposterior and lateral views, respectively. The clinical outcome and complications of all patients were documented. Results: The mean total effective dose for the O-arm group was approximately 4 times higher than that of the C-arm group (P<0.0001). The effective dose for the C-arm patients had high variability based on fluoroscopy time and did not correlate with the number of imaged spine levels or body weight. The effective dose of 1 low-dose pediatric O-arm scan approximated 85 seconds of the C-arm fluoroscopy time. All patients had satisfactory clinical outcomes without major complications that required returning to the operating room. Conclusions: Radiation exposure required for O-arm scans can be higher than that required for C-arm fluoroscopy, but it depends on fluoroscopy time. Inclusion of more medical centers and surgeons will better account for the variability of C-arm dose due to distinct patient characteristics, surgeon's preference, and individual institution's protocol. Level of Evidence: Level III-case-control study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-177
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • C-arm
  • CT-guided navigation
  • fluoroscopy
  • intraoperative CT
  • O-arm
  • pedicle screw placement
  • radiation exposure
  • scoliosis
  • spinal deformity
  • spine surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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