Temporary Percutaneous Pedicle Screw Stabilization Without Fusion of Adolescent Thoracolumbar Spine Fractures

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Abstract

Background:

Pediatric spine trauma often results from high-energy mechanisms. Despite differences in healing potential, comorbidities, and length of remaining life, treatment is frequently based on adult criteria; ligamentous injuries are fused and bony injuries are treated accordingly. In this study, we present short-term results of a select group of adolescent patients treated using percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation without fusion.

Methods:

An IRB-approved retrospective review was performed at a level 1 pediatric trauma center for thoracolumbar spine fractures treated by percutaneous pedicle screw instrumentation. Patients were excluded if arthrodesis was performed or if instrumentation was not removed. Demographics, injury mechanism, associated injuries, fracture classification, surgical data, radiographic measures, and complications were collected. Radiographs were analyzed for sagittal and coronal wedge angles and vertebral body height ratio and statistical comparisons performed on preoperative and postoperative values.

Results:

Between 2005 and 2013, 46 patients were treated surgically. Fourteen patients (5 male, 9 female) met inclusion criteria. Injury mechanisms included 8 motor vehicle collisions, 4 falls, and 2 all-terrain vehicle/motorcycle collisions. There were 8 Magerl type A injuries, 4 type B injuries, and 2 type C injuries. There was 1 incomplete spinal cord injury. Implants were removed between 5 and 12 months in 12 patients and after 12 months in 2 patients. Statistical analysis revealed significant postoperative improvement in all radiographic measures (P<0.05). There were no neurological complications, 1 superficial wound dehiscence, and 2 instrumentation failures (treated with standard removal). At last follow-up, 11 patients returned to unrestricted activities including sports. Average follow-up was 9 months after implant removal and 19.3 months after index procedure.

Conclusions:

Adolescent thoracolumbar fractures present unique challenges and treatment opportunities different from the adult patient. We present a nonconsecutive series of 14 patients temporarily stabilized with percutaneous pedicle screw fixation for injuries including 3-column fracture dislocations and purely ligamentous injuries. Temporary fusionless instrumentation can provide successful management of select thoracolumbar spine injuries in pediatric trauma patients.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—Retrospective case series.

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