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Open Access Case report

Minimal access direct spondylolysis repair using a pedicle screw-rod system: a case series

Mohamed Mohi Eldin

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt

Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:396  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-396

Published: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Introduction

Symptomatic spondylolysis is always challenging to treat because the pars defect causing the instability needs to be stabilized while segmental fusion needs to be avoided. Direct repair of the pars defect is ideal in cases of spondylolysis in which posterior decompression is not necessary. We report clinical results using segmental pedicle-screw-rod fixation with bone grafting in patients with symptomatic spondylolysis, a modification of a technique first reported by Tokuhashi and Matsuzaki in 1996. We also describe the surgical technique, assess the fusion and analyze the outcomes of patients.

Case presentation

At Cairo University Hospital, eight out of twelve Egyptian patients’ acute pars fractures healed after conservative management. Of those, two young male patients underwent an operative procedure for chronic low back pain secondary to pars defect. Case one was a 25-year-old Egyptian man who presented with a one-year history of axial low back pain, not radiating to the lower limbs, after falling from height. Case two was a 29-year-old Egyptian man who presented with a one-year history of axial low back pain and a one-year history of mild claudication and infrequent radiation to the leg, never below the knee. Utilizing a standardized mini-access fluoroscopically-guided surgical protocol, fixation was established with two titanium pedicle screws place into both pedicles, at the same level as the pars defect, without violating the facet joint. The cleaned pars defect was grafted; a curved titanium rod was then passed under the base of the spinous process of the affected vertebra, bridging the loose fragment, and attached to the pedicle screw heads, to uplift the spinal process, followed by compression of the defect. The patients were discharged three days after the procedure, with successful fusion at one-year follow-up. No rod breakage or implant-related complications were reported.

Conclusions

Where there is no evidence of frank spondylolisthesis or displacement and pain does not radiate below the knee, we recommend direct repair of the pars interarticularis fracture, especially in young active adults. We describe a modified form of the Buck screw procedure with a minimally invasive, image-guided method of pars interarticularis fixation. The use of image guidance simplifies the otherwise difficult visualization required for pars interarticularis screw placement and allows minimal skin and muscle dissection, which may translate into a more rapid postoperative recovery.