Traumatic spondyloptosis of the thoracolumbar spine

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Object

Traumatic Grade V thoracolumbar spondylolisthesis, or traumatic spondyloptosis (severe translation injuries), are uncommon spinal injuries. To the best of the authors' knowledge, this article represents the first reported case series of these unique spinal lesions.

Methods

The authors undertook a retrospective review of a tertiary care regional spinal cord injury patient population treated over a 10-year period (1997–2007). They analyzed data regarding age, sex, mechanism of injury, neurological status, and treatment.

Results

Five patients were identified (3 men and 2 women) with ages ranging from 17 to 44 years. All patients had sustained high-energy closed spinal injuries: 3 motor vehicle accidents, 1 injured in a building collapse, and 1 hurt by a fallen steel beam. Four patients, all with sagittal-plane spondyloptosis, had a complete neurological deficit (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] Grade A), and 1, with coronal-plane spondyloptosis, presented with an incomplete neurological deficit (ASIA Grade C). Four patients had sustained concurrent multisystem trauma. All patients underwent surgery: an isolated posterior fusion in 2 and combined posterior-anterior fusion in 3. Only the patient with an incomplete neurological deficit (coronal-plane spondyloptosis) recovered neurological function postoperatively.

Conclusions

Traumatic thoracolumbar junction spondyloptosis is rare. Surgical reconstruction and stabilization allow for early mobilization and rehabilitation. In the present series, a patient with coronal-plane spondyloptosis presented with preserved neurological function. This may be due to the result of differences in resultant neurological compression due to displacement mechanics compared with sagittally displaced injuries.

Abbreviations used in this paper: ASIA = American Spinal Injury Association; MVA = motor vehicle accident; SCI = spinal cord injury; VB = vertebral body.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: John Kevin Ratliff, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Thomas Jefferson University, 909 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107. email: john.ratliff@jefferson.edu.
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References
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