• Vol. 40 No. 3, 140–144
  • 15 March 2011

Radiological Outcome of Short Segment Posterior Stabilisation and Fusion in Thoracolumbar Spine Acute Fracture



Introduction: The optimal management of thoracolumbar spine fractures remains a matter of controversy. The current literature implies that the use of short-segment pedicle screw fixation may be inappropriate because of its high reported failure rate. The purpose of this study is to report the short-term results of thoracolumbar burst and compression fractures treated with short-segment pedicle instrumentation.

Materials and Methods: From 2002 to 2007, 19 patients with thoracolumbar acute traumatic fractures were instrumented with posterior short-segment pedicle screws. The patients’ case notes, operation records, preoperative and postoperative radiographs (sagittal index, anterior body compression and regional kyphosis), computed tomography scans, neurological findings (Frankel functional classification), and follow-up records up to 18 months were reviewed.

Results:A statistically significant difference was found between the patients’ preoperative, postoperative and follow-up sagittal index, anterior body compression and regional kyphosis measurement. One case resulted in screw pedicle screw pullout and subsequently, kyphotic deformity. The patient underwent revision surgery to long-segment posterior instrumentation and fusion. None of the patients showed an increase in neurological deficit.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the short-term follow-up results suggest a favourable outcome for short-segment instrumentation. Load shearing classification is essential for the selection of patient for short-segment instrumentation. However, the long-term follow-up evaluation will be needed to verify our findings.

The management of unstable thoracolumbar spine fractures remains controversial in spite of an improved knowledge of the morphometric, anatomic and biomechanical features of thoracolumbar vertebrae. The transpedicular short-segment construct represents an attempt to rebuild the anterior column without the need for anterior strut graft or plate fixation, hence, avoiding extensive arthrodesis of the motion segments. Indeed, the biomechanical study conducted by Kothe R et al showed that the use of pedicle screws could achieve stable construct within short-segment fixation. However, on the other hand, various unfavourable results have also been reported in the literature.

This article is available only as a PDF. Please click on “Download PDF” on top to view the full article.