Thoracolumbar burst fractures associated with incomplete neurological deficit in patients under the age of 40: Is the posterior approach enough? Surgical treatment and results in a case series of 10 patients with a minimum follow-up of 2 years

L Piccone, V Cipolloni, L A Nasto, C Pripp, F C Tamburrelli, G Maccauro, E Pola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Surgical management of thoracolumbar burst fractures is controversial. While the goals of surgical treatment are well accepted (i.e., fracture reduction and stabilization, neural elements decompression, and segmental angular deformity correction), the choice of the best surgical approach (i.e., posterior vs. anterior vs. combined approach) remains controversial. Several studies have debated the advantages of each surgical approach but there is no definitive evidence available to date, particularly in young adult patients. The aim of this study was to assess whether posterior approach alone can be a valid surgical treatment for patient under the age of 40 affected by thoracolumbar burst fractures and incomplete neurological deficits.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 10 consecutive patients affected by thoracolumbar burst fractures associated with incomplete neurological deficits treated at our institution from January 2015 to February 2017 were included in our study. All patients were under the age of 40 at the time of injury and underwent decompression and stabilization using the posterior surgical approach alone. Demographics, clinical, and radiographic parameters were recorded preoperatively, postoperatively and at the latest available follow-up. The minimum follow-up was set at 2 years post-operatively.

RESULTS: The mean operative time was 303.6 min (range, 138-486). Average blood loss was 756 mL (range, 440-2100). Nine out of ten patients returned to a normal neurological status after surgery while 1 patient showed some improvement but did not recover completely. Segmental kyphotic deformity improved from a mean of 21.8° before surgery to 14.8° at the time of the last follow-up. The anterior and posterior wall height of the fractured vertebra was restored with an average of 4 mm. The Visual Analogue Scale score reported an improvement from the mean preoperative value of 7.92 to 1.24 at the last follow-up; 8 out of 10 patients resumed physical activity while all of them returned to work.

CONCLUSIONS: A single posterior surgical approach is an acceptable option in terms of clinical, radiological and functional outcomes at 2 years follow-up in patients under the age of 40 presenting with a thoracolumbar burst fracture and neurological deficit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-316
Number of pages5
JournalInjury
Volume51
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Blood Loss, Surgical/statistics & numerical data
  • Decompression, Surgical/methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal/methods
  • Fractures, Comminuted/complications
  • Fractures, Compression/complications
  • Humans
  • Kyphosis/diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae/injuries
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases/diagnosis
  • Operative Time
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Radiography/methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fractures/diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fusion/methods
  • Thoracic Vertebrae/injuries
  • Visual Analog Scale

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