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Anterior reduction for cervical spine dislocation.

Spine 2006 March 16
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of a prospectively followed cohort.

OBJECTIVE: Long-term evaluation of patients with anterior stabilization for dislocations of the cervical spine.

SETTING: Level 1 trauma center.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Anterior stabilization of unstable cervical spine injuries is gaining popularity. However, the method of open reduction is controversial.

METHODS: Forty-one consecutive patients with unstable dislocations/subluxations of the subaxial cervical spine were included. Closed reduction was attempted in all patients using Gardner-Wells traction. If this failed, an anterior open reduction was performed. Tricortical iliac crest autograft and anterior plating was used. Patients were assessed for: 1) rate of successful reduction and stabilization using only the anterior surgical approach; and 2) complications and long-term clinical and radiologic outcome.

RESULTS: Two of eight (25%) anterior open reductions failed requiring posterior surgery. One of these patients had associated pedicle fractures with horizontal rotation of the lateral masses. All grafts had healed successfully at the most recent follow-up visit. Moderate neck discomfort was found in 5 of 41 patients. Significant neurologic improvement was observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Most subluxations/dislocations of the subaxial cervical spine can be reduced using Gardner-Wells traction and successfully stabilized with anterior surgery alone. If closed reduction fails, anterior open reduction is successful in the majority of cases.

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