Asian Spine J.  2019 Jun;13(3):432-440. 10.31616/asj.2018.0197.

Comparison of Surgical Outcomes of the Posterior and Combined Approaches for Repair of Cervical Fractures in Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • 2Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Thomas Jefferson University & Rothman Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. PURPOSE: To evaluate surgical outcomes and complications of cervical spine fractures in ankylosing spondylitis (CAS) patients who were treated using either the posterior (P) or combined approach (C). OVERVIEW OF LITERATURE: Ankylosing spondylitis typically causes progressive spinal stiffness that makes patients susceptible to spinal fractures. CAS is a highly unstable condition. There is contradictory evidence regarding which treatment option, the posterior or the combined approach, yields superior clinical results.
A single institution database was reviewed for data in the period 1999 to 2015. All CAS patients who underwent posterior or combined instrumented fusion were enrolled. We analyzed demographic data, radiographic results, perioperative complications, and postoperative results.
Thirty-three patients were enrolled (23 in the P group, 10 in the C group). All patients presented with neck pain after a fall. In the P group, mean operative time was 161.1 minutes (100-327 minutes), and mean estimated blood loss (EBL) was 306.4 mL (50-750 mL). In the C group, 90% of patients underwent a staged procedure, typically with posterior surgery first. Mean EBL was 124 mL (25-337 mL). For posterior surgery, mean EBL was 458.3 mL (400-550 mL). EBL of posterior surgery in the C group was higher but this difference was not significant (p=0.16). Postoperative complication rate was higher in the C group but this difference was not significant (50% vs. 17.4%, p=0.09). In the follow-up period, no late reoperations were performed. Patients who underwent C surgery had a higher rate of neurological improvement but this difference was not significant (p=0.57).
Both P and C provided good clinical results. P surgery had lower EBL, lower postoperative complication rate, and shorter length of stay than C surgery; none of these differences were statistically significant.


Cervical vertebrae; Spinal fractures; Surgery; Reoperation; Ankylosing spondylitis; Complication

MeSH Terms

Cervical Vertebrae
Cohort Studies
Follow-Up Studies
Length of Stay
Neck Pain
Operative Time
Postoperative Complications
Retrospective Studies
Spinal Fractures
Spondylitis, Ankylosing*
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