Background: Since introduction of the pedicle screw-rod system, short-segment pedicle screw fixation has been widely adopted for thoracolumbar burst fractures (TLBF). Recently, the percutaneous pedicle screw fixation (PPSF) systems have been introduced in spinal surgery; and it has become a popularly used method for the treatment of degenerative spinal disease. However, there are few clinical reports concerning the efficacy of PPSF without fusion in treatment of TLBF. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and safety of short-segment PPSF without fusion in comparison to open short-segment pedicle screw fixation with bony fusion in treatment of TLBF.
Methods: This study included 59 patients, who underwent either percutaneous (n = 32) or open (n = 27) short-segment pedicle screw fixation for stabilization of TLBF between December 2003 and October 2009. Radiographs were obtained before surgery, immediately after surgery, and at the final follow-up for assessment of the restoration of the spinal column. For radiologic parameters, Cobb angle, vertebral wedge angle, and vertebral body compression ratio were assessed on a lateral thoracolumbar radiograph. For patient's pain and functional assessment, the visual analogue scale (VAS), the Frankel grading system, and Low Back Outcome Score (LBOS) were measured. Operation time, and the amount of intraoperative bleeding loss were also evaluated.
Findings: In both groups, regional kyphosis (Cobb angle) showed significant improvement immediately after surgery, which was maintained until the last follow up, compared with preoperative regional kyphosis. Postoperative correction loss showed no significant difference between the two groups at the final follow-up. In the percutaneous surgery group, there were significant declines of intraoperative blood loss, and operation time compared with the open surgery group. Clinical results showed that the percutaneous surgery group had a lower VAS score and a better LBOS at three months and six months after surgery; however, the outcomes were similar in the last follow-up.
Conclusions: Both open and percutaneous short-segment pedicle fixation were safe and effective for treatment of TLBF. Although both groups showed favorable clinical and radiologic outcomes at the final follow-up, PPSF without bone graft provided earlier pain relief and functional improvement, compared with open TPSF with posterolateral bony fusion. Despite several shortcomings in this study, the result suggests that ongoing use of PPSF is recommended for the treatment of TLBF.