The role of fusion in the management of burst fractures of the thoracolumbar spine treated by short segment pedicle screw fixation

A prospective randomised trial

N. Jindal, S. S. Sankhala, V. Bachhal

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients with a burst fracture of the thoracolumbar spine treated by short segment pedicle screw fixation fared better clinically and radiologically if the affected segment was fused at the same time. A total of 50 patients were enrolled in a prospective study and assigned to one of two groups. After the exclusion of three patients, there were 23 patients in the fusion group and 24 in the non-fusion group. Follow-up was at a mean of 23.9 months (18 to 30). Functional outcome was evaluated using the Greenough Low Back Outcome Score. Neurological function was graded using the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale. Radiological outcome was assessed on the basis of the angle of kyphosis.

Peri-operative blood transfusion requirements and duration of surgery were significantly higher in the fusion group (p = 0.029 and p < 0.001, respectively). There were no clinical or radiological differences in outcome between the groups (all outcomes p > 0.05). The results of this study suggest that adjunctive fusion is unnecessary when managing patients with a burst fracture of the thoracolumbar spine with short segment pedicle screw fixation.

Footnotes

  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

  • Received September 12, 2011.
  • Accepted March 27, 2012.
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