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Open Access Case report

Operative management of a non-traumatic cervico-thoracic spondylolisthesis: a case report

Stefan Zwingenberger13*, Mario Leimert2, Roberto D Valladares3, Volker M Betz4 and Jens Seifert1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at Technical University, Fetscherstraße 74, Dresden, D-01307, Germany

2 Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at Technical University, Fetscherstraße 74, Dresden, D-01307, Germany

3 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center Outpatient Center, 450 Broadway Street M/C 6342, Redwood City, CA, 94063, USA

4 Department of Trauma & Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at Technical University, Fetscherstraße 74, D-01307, Dresden, Germany

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:146  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-146

Published: 12 June 2012

Abstract

Introduction

In contrast to spondylolisthesis of the lumbar spine, non-traumatic cervico-thoracic spondylolisthesis is a very rare lesion. Even minor changes in the displacement of the vertebrae or the cord can lead to cervical myelopathy and paralysis. Since only a few cases have been well-documented, there is currently no clear preference between operative techniques.

Case presentation

We describe the case of a 63-year-old Caucasian man with a 13 mm spondylolisthesis between C7 and T1. Within a few months, a progressive cervical myelopathy developed as he began to suffer pain and loss of function of his digits and was no longer able to walk unassisted. In an interdisciplinary collaboration between neurological and orthopedic surgeons, a ventral-dorsal-ventral approach was performed on one vertebral section. The ventral removal of the intervertebral disc was followed by laminectomy and dorsal instrumentation. A new application technique was established by inserting bicortical screws into the transverse processes of T2 and T3. The structure was subsequently stabilized by the ventral insertion of a Harms basket. The procedure was successful as it halted progression of the myelopathy. The patient demonstrated improved sensitivity and recovered the ability to walk unassisted. He has now been able to walk unassisted for two years postoperatively.

Conclusion

This paper describes a successful treatment for a very rare case of cervico-thoracic spondylolisthesis. The technique of inserting bicortical screws into the transverse processes is a fast, safe and successful method that does not require the use of intraoperative radiographs for placement of the bicortical screws into the transverse processes.

Keywords:
Cervico-thoracic; Spondylolisthesis; Myelopathy; Screws; Transverse processes