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Growth Changes of Solidly Fused Kyphotic Bloc After Surgery for Tuberculosis: Comparison of Four Procedures

Schulitz, Klaus-Peter, MD*; Kothe, Ralph, MD*; Leong, John C. Y., MD; Wehling, Peter, MD*


Study Design. A study to analyze the changes of the spinal deformity during the growth period, with regard to different operations for spinal tuberculosis in children.

Objectives. To quantify the changes in the kyphotic angle and the growth ratio of the fusion bloc during spinal growth for different fusion techniques.

Summary of Background Data. Most of the publications dealing with spinal tuberculosis in children focused on the clinical outcome with regard to different conservative and operative treatments. There is little reliable information concerning the growth of the solidly fused kyphotic bone bloc and its influence on the changes of the kyphotic deformity after different operative procedures.

Methods. The study included 117 children operated on for spinal tuberculosis at the age of 2-6 years at the Ruttonjee Sanatorium in Hong Kong during the 1950s and 1960s. Lateral radiographs obtained postoperatively and 5 and 10 years after the operation were analyzed for the growth changes of the solidly fused bone bloc. These results were compared with the different operation techniques (e.g., anterior fusion, posterior fusion, combined anterior and posterior fusion, and anterior debridement without fusion).

Results. The patients treated by anterior fusion showed the worst results with respect to the kyphotic angle. This was especially true when the lesion was located in the thoracic spine and several segments were involved. Regarding the growth ratio of the fusion bloc, only the combined fusion and the anterior debridement guaranteed an equal growth of the anterior and posterior height.

Conclusions. Radical anterior surgery for spinal tuberculosis destroys the anterior growth and limits the capacity for spinal remodeling. Therefore, it should be avoided, if it is not absolutely necessary, for the healing of the infection or the primary correction of the tuberculous deformity.

From the *Department of Orthopaedics, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany, and the †Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Hong-Kong, Hong-Kong.

Acknowledgment date: May 23, 1996.

First revision date: October 25, 1996.

Acceptance date: November 13, 1996.

Device status category: 1.

Address reprint requests to Klaus-Peter Schulitz, MD; Department of Orthopaedics; Heinrich-Heine-University; Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany

© 1997 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins