Object. In this study the authors retrospectively review 16 patients with traumatic disc herniation secondary to middle and lower cervical spine injuries who underwent a single posterior reduction and fusion procedure in which a cervical pedicle screw system was used. The study was undertaken to evaluate whether the procedure effectively reduced the disc herniation and whether it can be safely conducted without performing anterior decompressive surgery.
Methods. A total of 73 patients with middle and lower cervical spine injuries were identified. In 50 patients, pre- and postoperative magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained, and disc herniation was defined as the presence of an extruded disc that deformed the thecal sac or nerve roots. Traumatic disc herniation was revealed in 16 patients (32%) who underwent a single posterior reduction/fusion procedure in which a cervical pedicle screw system was used. The average follow-up period was 4.25 years (2–6.25 years). In all patients the average kyphotic deformity was 18°, which was corrected to 0.7° lordosis postoperatively. Anterior translation was reduced from 8 to 0.7 mm. The preoperative disc height ratio of 63% (normal 100%) was improved to 104%. Preoperative MR images revealed traumatic disc herniation in all 16 patients; postsurgery, reduction or reversal of disc herniation was observed in all patients. Thecal sac and/or spinal cord compression had disappeared after indirect decompression was achieved using a posterior procedure. No additional decompressive procedures were required to remove residual herniated disc material. Preoperatively, four patients presented with cervical radiculopathy, 10 with myelopathy (eight incomplete and two complete), and two without neurological symptoms. At final follow up, complete recovery was observed in all four patients with radiculopathy and improvement of at least one Frankel grade was shown in six patients (60%) with myelopathy. There were no cases of neurological deterioration immediately after surgery or during the course of the follow-up period. In all patients solid bone union was demonstrated, and there were no implant-related complications.
Conclusions. Traumatic disc herniation may occur frequently in association with injury of the cervical spine. The incidence of traumatic disc herniation in our series was 32%. The cervical pedicle screw system allowed three-dimensional reduction of the injured cervical segment and reduction or reversal of a disc herniation. After surgery, compression of the thecal sac and/or spinal cord had disappeared. The cervical pedicle screw system provides effective and safe fixation of the cervical spine injury—related traumatic disc herniation, and the surgery can be performed safely in a single posteriorapproach procedure without need of additional anterior decompressive interventions.