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Posterior Short-Segment Fixation with or without Fusion for Thoracolumbar Burst FracturesA Five to Seven-Year Prospective Randomized Study
Li-Yang Dai, MD, PhD1; Lei-Sheng Jiang, MD, PhD1; Sheng-Dan Jiang, MD, PhD1
1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, 1665 Kongjiang Road, Shanghai 200092, China. E-mail address for L.-Y. Dai: chinaspine@163.com
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Disclosure: In support of their research for or preparation of this work, one or more of the authors received, in any one year, outside funding or grants in excess of $10,000 from Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (08411950100). Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity. No commercial entity paid or directed, or agreed to pay or direct, any benefits to any research fund, foundation, division, center, clinical practice, or other charitable or nonprofit organization with which the authors, or a member of their immediate families, are affiliated or associated.
Investigation performed at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2009 May 01;91(5):1033-1041. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.H.00510
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Background: The impact of fusion as a supplement to short-segment instrumentation for the treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures is unclear. We conducted a controlled clinical trial to define the effect of fusion on lumbar spine and patient-related functional outcomes.

Methods: From 2000 to 2002, seventy-three consecutive patients with a single-level Denis type-B burst fracture involving the thoracolumbar spine and a load-sharing score of =6 were managed with posterior pedicle screw instrumentation. The patients were randomly assigned to treatment with posterolateral fusion (fusion group, n = 37) or without posterolateral fusion (nonfusion group, n = 36). The patients were followed for at least five years after surgery and were assessed with regard to clinical and radiographic outcomes. Clinical outcomes were evaluated with use of the Frankel scale, the motor score of the American Spinal Injury Association, a visual analog scale, and the Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaire. Radiographic outcomes were assessed on the basis of the local kyphosis angle and loss of kyphosis correction.

Results: No significant difference in radiographic or clinical outcomes was noted between the patients managed with the two techniques. Both operative time and blood loss were significantly less in the nonfusion group compared with the fusion group (p < 0.05). Twenty-five of the thirty-seven patients in the fusion group still had some degree of donor-site pain at the time of the latest examination.

Conclusions: Posterolateral bone-grafting is not necessary when a Denis type-B thoracolumbar burst fracture associated with a load-sharing score of =6 is treated with short-segment pedicle screw fixation.

Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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