Temporary Percutaneous Instrumentation and Selective Anterior Fusion for Thoracolumbar Fractures

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Study Design.

Prospective clinical trial in thoracolumbar trauma with 5-year follow-up.


To analyze clinical and radiographic outcomes of minimal invasive surgery, and the rational of circumferential fracture treatment with regard to age, degenerative changes, bone mineral density, and global sagittal balance.

Summary of Background Data.

Non-neurologic fractures with anterior column defect can be treated by posterior percutaneous instrumentation and selective anterior fusion. After consolidation, instrumentation can be removed at 1 year to provide mobility in non-fused segments.


Fifty-one patients, 47 (18–75) years, were operated for A2, A3, or B-type fractures. Visual analog scale (VAS) for back pain and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were assessed. Radiographic measurements were: sagittal index, regional kyphosis, T4-T12 kyphosis, L1-S1 lordosis, pelvic incidence, pelvic tilt, sacral slope, and T9 tilt. Anterior fusion and facet joints were analyzed on computed tomography (CT) at 1 year.


The ODI was 8.8 before accident, 35.4 at 3 months, 17.8 at 2 years, 14.4 at 5 years. The VAS was 2.0 at 3 months and 1.0 at 5 years. The sagittal index was 18.0° preoperatively and 1.0° at 3 months (P < 0.0001). A loss of reduction of 1.1° occurred after implant removal (P = 0.009). Global sagittal balance remained unchanged. Ten patients with osteopenia or osteoporosis had a worse ODI: 24.7 versus 11.9 (P = 0.016), and a greater loss of correction: 4.9° versus 1.3° (P = 0.007). Cages filled with cancellous bone from the fractured vertebra fused regularly. Spontaneous facet joint fusions were observed in two patients at the fracture level in B-type injuries.


Percutaneous instrumentation and selective anterior fusion using autologous bone and mesh cages lead to high fusion rates, which provided good long-term clinical results in younger patients with thoracolumbar fractures. Sagittal alignment was maintained after instrumentation removal without damaging paravertebral muscles. Outcomes were worse in elderly patients presenting osteopenia or osteoporosis.


Level of Evidence: 3

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