Severe cervical kyphosis requiring surgical treatment is rare in patients with neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). When it occurs, however, dystrophic changes in the vertebrae make surgical correction and fusion of the deformity extremely difficult.
The authors report on 3 cases of severe cervical kyphosis associated with NF1 that were successfully treated with combined anterior and posterior correction and fusion. All patients underwent halo-gravity traction for approximately 1 month prior to surgery to correct the deformity gradually. Posterior correction and fusion were performed with segmental spinal instrumentation consisting of lateral mass screws, lamina screws, pedicle screws, and polyethylene tape for sublaminar wiring. Anterior spinal fusion was performed using a fibula strut to induce solid bone fusion. All patients used a halo vest for postoperative external fixation.
Preoperative CT scans showed dystrophic cervical spine changes, and MR images demonstrated extensive neurofibromas outside the cervical spine in all 3 patients. The preoperative kyphotic angles were as follows: Case 1, 140°; Case 2, 81°; and Case 3, 72°; after halo-gravity traction, the kyphosis angles improved to 50°, 55°, and 51°, respectively; and after surgery, they were 50°, 15°, and 27°, respectively. Solid bone union was observed in all patients at the latest follow-up. All three patients experienced postoperative complications consisting of superficial infection, severe pneumonia, and partial dislocation of the distal fibula graft after removing the halo vest, in one patient each.
Although dystrophic cervical vertebral changes in these patients with NF1 complicated the correction of severe cervical kyphosis, the use of preoperative halo-gravity traction, a combination of spinal instrumentations, an anterior strut bone graft, and postoperative halo-vest fixation made it possible to correct the kyphosis, maintain the correction, and achieve solid bone fusion.