Background Internal fixation of unstable thoracolumbar spine fractures requires correction of the lacking anterior column support. This usually entails insertion of a vertebral body replacement strut through an anterior approach, or a long posterior construct spanning at least two vertebrae above and two vertebrae below the fracture. Posterior short-segment pedicle instrumentation (SSPI)\-one vertebra above and below\-is suitable for approximately 40% of fractures, but not for all. Methods A total of 52 patients with unstable thoracolumbar burst fractures meeting our inclusion criteria were instrumented using a novel approach, combining percutaneous SSPI, pedicle screw augmentation with polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and fractured vertebra kyphoplasty. We retrospectively reviewed patient and fracture data, operative results and 1 year radiographic follow-up postoperatively in 40 of the patients. We reviewed operative complications of all 52 patients. Results Most fractures were AO/Magerl type A3.1, A3.2 and A3.3. They were instrumented within 72 h and ambulated without additional external bracing. Operative time averaged 2 h and blood loss was less than 50 cc in most cases. Complications were mostly related to PMMA leakage. On average, 3.3° (0-13) of correction was lost after 3 months, but remained constant afterward. Conclusions Percutaneous augmented short-segment pedicle instrumentation of unstable thoracolumbar fractures can be done with short operative times, minimal blood loss and a low complication rate. The radiographical results at 1 year are equal to anterior stabilization and are better than other posterior-only techniques.
- Percutaneous instrumentation