Management of cervical fractures in ankylosing spondylitis: anterior, posterior or combined approach?

Br Med Bull. 2015 Sep;115(1):57-66. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldv010. Epub 2015 Mar 22.


Introduction: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) can lead to an increased risk of cervical fractures.

Sources of data: A systematic review was undertaken using the keywords 'ankylosing spondylitis', 'spine fractures', 'cervical fractures', 'surgery' and 'postoperative outcomes' on Medline, Pubmed, Google Scholar, Ovid and Embase, and the quality of the studies included was evaluated according to the Coleman Methodology Score.

Areas of agreement: Surgery ameliorates neurological function in patients with unstable AS-related cervical fractures. The combined anterior/posterior and the posterior approaches are more effective than the anterior approach.

Areas of controversy: The optimal approach, anterior, posterior or combined anterior/posterior, for the management of AS related cervical fractures has not been defined.

Growing points: Open reduction and internal fixation allows avoiding worsening and enhances neurological function in AS patients with cervical fractures.

Areas timely for developing research: Adequately powered randomized trials with appropriate subjective and objective outcome measures are necessary to reach definitive conclusions.

Keywords: ankylosing spondylitis; cervical fractures; management; postoperative outcomes; spine fractures; surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Axis, Cervical Vertebra / injuries*
  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology*
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome