Effectiveness of posterior tension band fixation in the thoracolumbar seat-belt type injuries of the young population

Alessandro Ramieri, Maurizio Domenicucci, Paolo Cellocco, Antonino Raco, Giuseppe Costanzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report results in the surgical treatment of thoracolumbar flexion-distraction fractures, both associated or not with neurological impairment. Items in the present study include function, pain (back pain rating scale) and neurological recovery (Asia Score). A prospective series of 19 consecutive flexion-extension thoracolumbar injuries (T11-L2), occurred in young patients (20-33 years) due to motor vehicle crashes wearing the 3-point safety belts, includes 2 Chance and 17 seat-belt fractures, with different amount of vertebral dislocation and neurological impairment. Fractures have been evaluated according to the Magerl's classification. All patients were operated via posterior approach using hybrid instrumentation or short pedicular fixation to reduce dislocation and to obtain spinal fusion. Posterior decompression was performed in all patients with neurological deficit. Posterior instrumented arthodesis was performed by wide constructs that preferably include 2 levels above and below the dislocated vertebra. Most of them were instrumented using thoracic hooks and lumbar pedicular screws. One postoperative vascular complication was successfully treated by selective embolization. All neurological patients were submitted to a postoperative rehabilitation program. Posterior procedure allows proper reduction and realignment. In our experience, the use of laminar hooks one level above the dislocation seems to reduce the potential risk of neurological and /or vascular damage during the intraoperative maneuvers on the dislocated pedicles. At follow-up, fusion was achieved in all patients. The clinical condition was totally satisfactory due to the absence of significant pain, confirming mechanical stability of the implants. In terms of neurological outcomes, patients presenting as ASIA A-B or ASIA E, maintained their preoperative neurological condition. Surgical treatment, together with an early postoperative rehabilitation program, can be of paramount importance in neurological patients' quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Instrumented arthrodesis
  • Posterior fixation
  • Seat-belt injury
  • Thoracolumbar fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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