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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X


POLLEY, PJ  and  DUNN, RN. Surgical management of cervical tuberculosis: Review of 18 patients. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2009, vol.8, n.2, pp.63-67. ISSN 2309-8309.

AIM: To review our experience and results of surgically managed cervical TB spondylitis. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Eighteen consecutive cases of cervical TB spondylitis managed surgically by the senior author (RD) between 2001 and 2008 were identified. Of the 18, nine were males and nine females. The ages ranged from 2 to 59 years, with five patients younger than 10 years, and nine older than 10 and younger than 20 years of age. Case notes and imaging were retrospectively reviewed. Epidemiological data, surgical procedures and complications and neurological status were recorded both pre-operatively and at follow-up. The average follow-up was 12.5 months. X-rays and MRI were assessed in terms of degree of involvement of the disease and sagittal plane deformity, and both correction and maintenance thereof. RESULTS: The average length of history was 14 weeks and the most common presenting complaint was neck pain. Blood results showed a consistently raised ESR (average 72), with a normal average white cell count of 8.7. All patients with neurology recovered or improved, and the four non-walking patients became ambulant again. Histology provided the most sensitive results with 14 out of 15 biopsies clearly positive and one suggestive (chronic inflammation). The five children under age 10 all had positive Mantoux skin tests. All X-rays showed increased prevertebral soft tissue mass. Surgery was individualised to anterior, posterior, or both. CONCLUSION: Cervical tuberculosis can be safely and successfully managed surgically; however, these patients are a heterogeneous group and their treatments should be individualised. Anterior plating is effective in obtaining fusion but there is a risk of loss of correction especially for longer constructs. The use of low weight traction for deformity correction prior to surgery and Halo jackets post-operatively are useful management tools.

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