✓ For lesions involving the anterior and/or middle column of the spine, an anterior approach is adequate for curetting the lesion and restoring spinal stability. Materials such as autogenous bone grafts, cages with bone chips, some artificial materials, or allografts are used as strut materials. Rib material is usually removed when the anterior approach is conducted for thoracic or thoracolumbar lesions. A rib itself is not rigid enough to support the load, and a bone union is not easily obtained. The purpose of this paper is to describe a method of grafting vascularized rib in folded form to fill the defects left after removal of a spinal lesion.
The rib, with the artery and vein at two levels cranial to the involved vertebral body, was isolated from surrounding tissues such as the intercostal nerve, muscles, and pleura. After curetting the lesion, the rib was folded into three or four pieces to a length adequate to fill the defect and inserted as a pedicled vascularized graft.
A total of 23 cases, including 14 men and nine women, underwent surgery in which this grafting technique was used. The pathological conditions requiring anterior decompression and fusion were spinal trauma in nine cases, spinal infection in six cases, osteoporotic fracture in seven cases, and spinal metastasis in one case. In all cases a solid bone union was obtained and all infections resolved.
With vascularized rib graft folded into three to four pieces, solid bone union can be obtained without use of any other grafted materials even in cases of infection and osteoporosis.