Early results after vertebral body stenting for fractures of the anterior column of the thoracolumbar spine.
INTRODUCTION: Vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty have shown to improve pain and functional outcome in cases with symptomatic vertebral fractures. Although restoration of the vertebral body height and kyphosis seemed to be easier with balloon kyphoplasty, it became clear that some of the correction achieved by the balloon is lost once it was deflated. Vertebral body stent was developed to eliminate this phenomenon. To our knowledge this is the first study in describing this technique in clinical settings. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Seventeen patients with 20 fractured vertebral bodies were included. All fractures were Type A1.3 or A3.1 (incomplete burst). Information about pain (visual analogue scale-VAS) and function (Oswestry disability index-ODI) and vertebral body deformity (vertebral angle-VA) was recorded in a prospective way at regular intervals. Patients were classified into osteoporotic group (7 patients) and traumatic groups (10 patients, younger than 60 years). RESULTS: There were 6 male and 11 female patients with mean age of 58.1 years (31-88 years). Mean follow up was 12 months. The preoperative pain level showed a mean VAS score of 8.9 in osteoporotic group and 9.7 in traumatic group. Postoperatively, in osteoporotic group, mean VAS was 4.8 at 6 weeks, 4.0 at 6 months and 2.5 at 12 months compared with traumatic fracture group where it was 2.7 at 6 weeks, 2.2 at 6 months and 1.6 at 12 months. Mean ODI in osteoporotic group was 41.7% (14-58%) and in traumatic group it was 20.4% (6-33%). Mean vertebral body angle prior to surgery in osteoporotic group was 9.7 whilst postoperatively it was 5.2°; so the mean correction achieved was 4.5°. In traumatic group preoperative VA was 13° whilst postoperatively it was 5.7°; therefore the mean correction achieved was 7.3°. None of the patients lost reduction at their last follow up. CONCLUSION: Vertebral body stenting leads to satisfactory improvement in pain, function and kyphosis correction in the treatment of osteoporotic and traumatic fractures. Anterior spinal column, especially the fragmented superior endplate is nicely reconstructed by the stent provided it is inserted accurately. With addition of posterior transpedicular instrumentation, indications for this technique may be wider covering some Type B and C fractures with similar vertebral body damage.