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Outcomes of Unstable Subaxial Cervical Spine Fractures Managed by Posteroanterior Stabilization and Fusion.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective study.

PURPOSE: To evaluate clinical and radiological outcomes of unstable subaxial cervical spine injuries managed by both posterior tension band column stabilization and anterior decompression, stabilization, and fusion.

OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: Unstable subaxial cervical spine injuries often involve disruption of the anterior column and posterior tension band osteoligamentous complex. Such injuries need immediate surgical intervention. Different methods of reduction and surgical approaches have been published in the literature, with lack of consensus on a uniform or standardized method. Controversy still exists regarding stabilization of unstable cervical fractures by anterior or posterior approach alone or combined approaches.

METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated 24 patients with post-traumatic unstable subaxial cervical spine injuries with their preoperative clinical details, X-ray, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine for fracture classification based on the mechanism of injury with status of disc herniation and posterior tension band disruption. All patients were managed by immediate reduction, posterior and anterior stabilization, and fusion in a single session of anesthesia. Data of all patients were analyzed with respect to pre- and postoperative neurological status based on American Spinal Injury Association grading, Visual Analog Scale score, the observation of bony fusion, and implant failure at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Data were analyzed using paired t -test.

RESULTS: All patients had solid fusion at the desired level with considerable neurological improvement at the 1-year follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: In unstable cervical injuries, stabilization of disrupted posterior tension band increases the stability of anterior plating and fusion. This method of immediate reduction and circumferential stabilization is rapid, safe, and effective and has a low rate of complications.

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