JOURNAL ARTICLE

Thoracolumbar burst fractures treated with posterior decompression and pedicle screw instrumentation supplemented with balloon-assisted vertebroplasty and calcium phosphate reconstruction

Rex A W Marco, Vivek P Kushwaha
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2009, 91 (1): 20-8
19122075

BACKGROUND: The treatment of unstable thoracolumbar burst fractures with short-segment posterior spinal instrumentation without anterior column reconstruction is associated with a high rate of screw breakage and progressive loss of reduction. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the functional, neurologic, and radiographic results following transpedicular, balloon-assisted fracture reduction with anterior column reconstruction with use of calcium phosphate bone cement combined with short-segment posterior instrumentation and a laminectomy.

METHODS: A consecutive series of thirty-eight patients with an unstable thoracolumbar burst fracture with or without neurologic deficit were managed with transpedicular, balloon-assisted fracture reduction, calcium phosphate bone cement reconstruction, and short-segment spinal instrumentation from 2002 to 2005. Twenty-eight of the thirty-eight patients were followed for a minimum of two years. Demographic data, neurologic function, segmental kyphosis, the fracture severity score, canal compromise, the Short Form-36 score, the Oswestry Disability Index score, and treatment-related complications were evaluated prospectively.

RESULTS: All thirteen patients with incomplete neurologic deficits had improvement by at least one Frankel grade. The mean kyphotic angulation improved from 17 degrees preoperatively to 7 degrees at the time of the latest follow-up, and the loss of vertebral body height improved from a mean of 42% preoperatively to 14% at the time of the latest follow-up. Screw breakage occurred in two patients, and pseudarthrosis occurred in one patient.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study demonstrates that excellent reduction of unstable thoracolumbar burst fractures with and without associated neurologic deficits can be maintained with use of short-segment instrumentation and a transpedicular balloon-assisted reduction combined with anterior column reconstruction with calcium phosphate bone cement performed through a single posterior incision. The resultant circumferential stabilization combined with a decompressive laminectomy led to maintained or improved neurologic function in all patients with neurologic deficits, with a low rate of instrumentation failure and loss of correction.

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