Surgical treatment of the cervico-thoracic junction (CTJ) in the spine require special evaluation due to the anatomical and biomechanical characteristics of this spinal section. The transitional zone between the mobile cervical and the relatively rigid thoracic spine can be the site of serious unstable traumas or neoplastic lesions. Frequently, injury is associated with neurological impairment due to the small caliber of the spinal canal and/or spinal cord vascular insufficiency. The authors considered 33 neurologic lesions of the CTJ (21 traumas, 10 tumors, 2 infections) treated by means of decompression, fixation, and fusion by different type of instrumentation. Surgical procedure was posterior in 26 cases, anterior in 1 and combined in 6. Major general complications were not found in patients undergoing anterior approach. Biomechanical failure was found in two patients operated by T1 body replacement and C7-T2 anterior plate. Serious cardio-respiratory complications were related to 2 polytrauma patients who underwent posterior surgery. Follow-up evaluation showed spinal stability and fusion in 88% of cases, improvement of the neurological deficits in 42% (19% improved to ASIA E), no or only occasional pain in 75% of patients. In the experience, recovery of spinal realignment and stability is essential to avoid disability due to back pain in trauma patients. In spinal tumors, back pain was related to local recurrence. Neurological outcomes can be unsatisfactory due to the initial serious impairment. There is no type of instrumentation more effective than other. In each single lesion, the most suitable type of instrumentation should be employed, considering morphology, biomechanics, and familiarity of the spinal surgeon with different implants and constructs. Therefore, we prefer to use posterior cervicothoracic fixation in T1 lesions with involvement of the vertebral body and subsequently replace the body with cage without anterior stabilization.
- Cervicothoracic junction
- Operative treatment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine