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September 2014


What Is That? New Developments in Lumbar Hardware  

 Alice Ha 


Alice Ha, associate professor of radiology, musculoskeletal section; director of musculoskeletal ultrasound; and associate program director of MSK radiology fellowship at UW Medical Center and Jonelle M. Petscavage-Thomas, assistant professor of radiology at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, coauthored “Imaging of Current Spinal Hardware: Lumbar Spine,” which appears in the September 2014 issue of the AJR.  

What are the newest developments in hardware used in the lumbar spine?

The important advances in lumbar spine hardware are less about new material and more about new designs. Most notably, recently there has been a focus on minimally invasive devices, dynamic stabilizations, and functional disk replacements.

What should radiologists know about these new devices and procedures?

Radiologists should know the radiologic appearance of the devices in the normal postoperative setting and also be aware of common complications.

What are the most prevalent complications to look for when evaluating and imaging patients with this type of hardware?

The most common complications are adjacent segment degeneration and hardware loosening.

What are the ramifications of a radiologist’s lack of knowledge about these materials?

A radiologist who is not keeping up to date on hardware design may miss early signs of complications and fail to prevent more progressive complications, which could include death. Knowledge of new hardware designs is also crucial in effective communication with the ordering physicians.

What do radiologists need to keep in mind when imaging patients for non–spine-related issues?

It is important to know the locations and types of lumbar spine devices to keep them from obscuring other anatomy.