Anterior release and nonstructural bone grafting and posterior fixation for old lower cervical dislocations with locked facets

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Lower cervical dislocations are often missed at the time of initial injury for several reasons. The treatment of old facet dislocations of the lower cervical spine is difficult, and the optimal method has not been established. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the clinical outcomes of a surgical technique, anterior release, and nonstructural bone grafting combined with posterior fixation, for the treatment of old lower cervical dislocations with locked facets.

This was a retrospective study of 17 patients (13 men and 4 women) with old facet dislocations, who underwent the same surgical treatment at our hospital between April 2010 and January 2016. The anterior procedure was conducted to remove the fusion mass and to achieve discectomy and morselized bone grafting. Subsequent posterior procedure included release, reduction, and posterior fusion. The neurologic status, clinical data (Japanese Orthopedic Association [JOA], Neck Disability Index [NDI], and Visual Analog Scale [VAS] scores), and radiographic information (local sagittal alignment and bone graft fusion) were recorded and evaluated pre and postoperatively.

All patients achieved a nearly complete reduction intraoperatively. The mean operative time was 178 ± 49 minutes. The mean blood loss was 174 ± 73 mL. Each patient completed at least 12 months of follow-up. The mean follow-up duration was 32.6 ± 18.5 months. The neurologic status according to the Frankel grade was significantly improved at the last follow-up. The JOA, NDI, and VAS scores all demonstrated significant improvements compared with the preoperative values (P < .05). The kyphosis angle of the dislocated segments was 10.5 ± 5.9° at preoperation, and was corrected to 5.9 ± 4.3° lordosis postoperatively. Anterior and posterior solid fusion was observed in all patients within 12 months of follow-up. Fat liquefaction and delayed healing of the posterior wound occurred in 1 patient. Cerebrospinal fluid leakage occurred in another patient. There was no neurologic deterioration and no procedure-related complications.

Anterior release and nonstructural bone grafting combined with posterior fixation provides a safe and effective option for treating old lower cervical dislocations with locked facets.

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