Of forty patients with unstable fractures and fracture-dislocations of
the thoracic or lumbar spine treated with Harrington instrumentation and
spine fusion, thirty-five had a neural deficit (twenty-three with
incomplete or cauda equina lesions and twelve with complete lesions).
Laminectomy or posterolateral decompression was performed prior to
instrumentation and fusion in twenty-three patients and at the time of
stabilization, in thirteen. Solid fusion was obtained in all but one
patient. Back pain persisted in four. No patient had residual spinal
deformity. Twenty-one patients with incomplete or cauda equina lesions
regained some neural function, while all twelve with complete lesions
remained unchanged. The advantages of this technique include effective
stabilization of the spine, early mobilization and rehabilitation, and
prevention of late deformity.