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The effect of transpedicular intracorporeal grafting in the treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures on canal remodeling

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Short-segment posterior instrumentation for the treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures has been reported with a high rate of failure. Transpedicular intracorporeal grafting in combination with short-segment instrumentation has been offered as an alternative to prevent failure. However, concern still remains about the potential complication of further canal narrowing or failure of remodeling with this technique. The purpose of this prospective, randomized, controlled study is to evaluate the effect of transpedicular intracorporeal grafting on spinal canal restoration and remodeling in a group of patients treated with short-segment instrumentation for thoracolumbar burst fractures. Twenty-one patients with thoracolumbar burst fractures were randomised into transpedicular grafting (TPG) (n=11) and non- transpedicular grafting (NTPG) (n=10) groups, and were prospectively followed for an average of 50 months (range 25–85 months). Groups were similar in age, type of fracture, load sharing classification and kyphotic deformity. Preoperative, postoperative and follow-up computed tomographic (CT) images through the level of pedicles were obtained, corrected for differences in magnification, and digitized. Areas of the spinal canals were measured and normalized by the estimated area at that level (average of adjacent levels). Average kyphosis was 19.7°±6.2° at presentation, was corrected to 1.9°±4.9° by operation, but was found to have deteriorated to 9.1°±6.4° at final follow-up. There were no differences between groups regarding the evolution of sagittal deformity. Spinal canal narrowing was 38.5±18.2% at presentation, 22.1±19.8% postoperatively, and it further improved to –2.5±16.7% at follow-up, similar for both groups. Our results demonstrate that transpedicular intracorporeal grafting in the treatment of burst fractures does not have a detectable effect on the rate of reconstruction of the canal area or on remodeling. Spinal canal remodeling was observed to occur in all patients regardless of grafting.

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Alanay, A., Acaroğlu, E., Yazici, M. et al. The effect of transpedicular intracorporeal grafting in the treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures on canal remodeling. Eur Spine J 10, 512–516 (2001).

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