Treatment of Lumbar Split Fracture-Dislocation With Short-Segment or Long-Segment Posterior Fixation and Anterior Fusion

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Study Design:

Retrospective analysis of 16 patients.

Summary of Background Data:

The lumbar split fracture-dislocation is a rare but severe injury, which is type C1.2.1 fracture in the Association for the Study of Internal Fixation spine fracture classification. The axial compressive and torsional force shattered the vertebral body into 2 halves and displaced them rotationally. This kind of fracture is so highly unstable that the treatment is very challenging.


The purpose of this study was to report and compare on clinical outcome and complications of patients with lumbar split fracture-dislocation which had been treated either short-segment or long-segment posterior fixation and anterior fusion.

Materials and Methods:

A total of 16 patients with acute, split fracture-dislocation of the lumbar spine from March 2000 to May 2009 in our department were recruited. Seven patients (group I) treated by long-segment posterior fixation (2 levels above and 2 below the fracture) and anterior corpectomy and strut grafting. With the improvement of surgical technique and instrument, 9 patients after August 2004 were treated by short-segment posterior fixation (1 level above and 1 below, and included the fractured vertebrae itself) and anterior discectomy and strut grafting. The intraoperative blood loss, operation time, complications of operation, time to achieve bony fusion, Frankel scale, Oswestry Disability index, and Visual Analogue Pain Scale the Cobb angle were collected and compared.


The mean follow-up was 33.4 months for group I and 36.2 months for group II. The operation time was 457.1 minutes in group I which was significantly longer than 240.0 minutes in group II. The total blood loss was for group I was 2001.4 mL (range, 1580–2500 mL) and for group II was 730.6 mL (range, 430–950 mL). There was no neurological deterioration after surgery in both group and no difference in neurological outcome between the 2 groups. The loss of correction in Cobb angle averaged at the final evaluation was 2 and 5 degrees for groups I and II, respectively. There was no radiologically visible pseudarthrosis. The postoperative Visual Analogue Pain Scale score was 3.3 and 2.7 for groups I and II, respectively. In the SF-36 survey, after surgery the domains Role physical and Bodily pain improved significantly only in group B (P<0.05 and P=0.06, respectively). Time to achieve bony fusion in group I was 7.9 months which was significantly longer than 3.8 months in group II. Complications included 3 urinary infections, 1 decubitus ulcer, and 1 superficial infection that were cured by antibiotics. Screw breakage was found in 1 patient in the group II.


The lumbar sagittal split fracture-dislocation is a rare but severe injury, which can be treated either with short-segment or long-segment posterior fixation and anterior fusion. The short construct with pedicle screws in the fractured vertebrae followed by the maneuver of rod derotation can obtain anatomic reduction, restoration of 3-column alignment, and decompress the affected neural elements by restoration of the normal canal dimension. It may be a better therapeutic option for the highly unstable lumbar fracture of C1.2.1.

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