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° preoperatively to 7° 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.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery (R.A.W.M. and V.P.K.) and Neurosurgery (R.A.W.M.), The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 6700 West Loop South, Suite 110, Bellaire, TX 77401. E-mail address for R.A.W. Marco: email@example.com