A retrospective study of treating thoracolumbar spine fractures in ankylosing spondylitis
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Spinal fractures are commonly encountered in ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients. This study compares the outcome of early surgical treatment with initial conservative treatment for thoracolumbar fractures in patients with AS. From 1996 to 2008, 28 patients with AS were treated either operatively or conservatively for thoracolumbar fractures; however, only 25 patients met the inclusion criteria with a minimum follow-up of 2 years. For surgically treated patients, posterior spinal instrumentation was performed using a transpedicle screw system. Nonsurgically treated patients wore a fracture brace. The demographic data, diagnosis, mechanism of injury, and neurological status were recorded, and fracture healing was assessed radiographically. The mean age was 54.2 ± 13.8 years (range 30–80 years). Six patients (Group A) received surgical intervention within 1 month. All of these fractures healed, and two of five patients showed neurologic improvement after surgery. Eight patients (Group B) had fractures that were missed. The delay in diagnosis resulted in pseudoarthrosis in all cases, and progressive neurologic deficits were identified in four cases. Eleven patients (Group C) received conservative treatment with bracing. Fracture union was achieved in three cases, and pseudoarthrosis occurred in eight cases. Operative treatment can achieve solid fusion and improve the neurological status, while conservative treatment may result in pseudoarthrosis and progressive neurologic deficit. The results suggest that AS patients with unstable spinal fractures should receive early surgical management to prevent further sequelae.
KeywordsAnkylosing spondylitis Spinal fractures Posterior instrumentation Fracture bracing Surgical versus conservative treatment
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