To report a series of patients in whom sacral insufficiency fractures developed following multilevel spinal fusion with instrumentation.
Summary of Background Data.
Rigid spinal fusion with instrumentation results in abnormal distribution of forces in the spine. These forces have the potential to cause failure of adjacent segments, especially in older, osteopenic individuals. Sacral insufficiency fractures following lumbar-sacral fusion may be the result of these abnormal forces. However, this complication is not well described in the literature.
Three patients who sustained sacral fractures after instrumented lumbar-sacral fusion performed for degenerative disease of the spine are discussed. History, physical examination findings, and radiographic features are presented, along with a brief review of the pertinent literature.
All 3 patients in our series started complaining of new-onset buttock pain a few weeks after their operative procedure. Radiographic examination revealed that they had transverse sacral fractures just below the fusion instrumentation. Nonoperative, conservative treatment was performed. At final follow-up, the fractures had healed completely and the patients’ complaints had resolved.
Patients who complain of new-onset buttock pain following multilevel lumbar-sacral fusion with instrumentation should be evaluated for sacral insufficiency fractures, especially if they have been sitting for prolonged periods. Conservative treatment seems to be sufficient.