The need for anterior column reconstruction after thoracolumbar burst fractures remains controversial. Here, the authors present their experience with minimally invasive lateral thoracolumbar corpectomies for traumatic fractures.
Between 2012 and 2019, 59 patients with 65 thoracolumbar fractures underwent 65 minimally invasive lateral corpectomies (MIS group). This group was compared to 16 patients with single-level thoracolumbar fractures who had undergone open lateral corpectomies with the assistance of general surgery between 2007 and 2011 (open control group). Comparisons of the two groups were made with regard to operative time, estimated blood loss, time to ambulation, and fusion rates at 1 year postoperatively. The authors further analyzed the MIS group with regard to injury mechanism, fracture characteristics, neurological outcome, and complications.
Patients in the MIS group had a significantly shorter mean operative time (228.3 ± 27.9 vs 255.6 ± 34.1 minutes, p = 0.001) and significantly shorter mean time to ambulation after surgery (1.8 ± 1.1 vs 5.0 ± 0.8 days, p < 0.001) than the open corpectomy group. Mean estimated blood loss did not differ significantly between the two groups, though the MIS group did trend toward a lower mean blood loss. There was no significant difference in fusion status at 1 year between the MIS and open groups; however, this comparison was limited by poor follow-up, with only 32 of 59 patients (54.2%) in the MIS group and 8 of 16 (50%) in the open group having available imaging at 1 year. Complications in the MIS group included 1 screw misplacement requiring revision, 2 postoperative femoral neuropathies (one of which improved), 1 return to surgery for inadequate posterior decompression, 4 pneumothoraces requiring chest tube placement, and 1 posterior wound infection. The rate of revision surgery for the failure of fusion in the MIS group was 1.7% (1 of 59 patients).
The minimally invasive lateral thoracolumbar corpectomy approach for traumatic fractures appears to be relatively safe and may result in shorter operative times and quicker mobilization as compared to those with open techniques. This should be considered as a treatment option for thoracolumbar spine fractures.