Comparison of Three Surgical Approaches for Thoracic Spinal Tuberculosis in Adult: Minimum 5-Year Follow Up

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Study Design.Retrospective study.Objective.To assess the minimum 5-year follow up outcomes of the surgical management of adults with thoracic tuberculosis by comparing posterior only (PO), anterior only (AO), and combined posterior and anterior (AP) surgical approaches.Summary of Background Data.Surgeons use multiple methods to treat spinal tuberculosis, including an anterior, posterior, and combined anterior and posterior approach. However, there are a few reports comparing the mid- and long-term outcomes of these surgical methods.Methods.The medical records for 184 patients treated for thoracic tuberculosis between January 2003 and November 2010 were retrospectively reviewed. Among them, 62 patients were treated with a single-stage posterior debridement and interbody fusion with instrumentation (Group A), 65 patients with posterior instrumentation, anterior debridement, and bone graft in a single or two-stage procedure (Group B), and 57 patients with anterior debridement and strut grafting with instrumentation (Group C). Operative time, blood loss, Visual Analog Scale for pain, complications, recovery of neurological function, Cobb angle, correction rate, and loss angle were compared among all groups.Results.Groups A, B, and C were followed for 72.7 ± 3.8 months, 74.3 ± 4.2 months, and 73.6 ± 4.5 months, respectively. The operative time, blood loss, and rate of complications for Group A were significantly less than Groups B and C (P < 0.05). The correction rate and loss angle were superior in Groups A and B compared with C, whereas the Visual Analog Scale for pain and fusion time showed no statistically significant difference among the groups (P > 0.05).Conclusion.For patients with thoracic tuberculosis, use of the AO approach should be limited. Although the AP approach produced satisfactory outcomes, it remains more traumatic. Therefore, the PO approach is recommended, not only because it achieves good results, but because it has reduced complications, operative time, and blood loss.Level of Evidence: 3

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