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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007 Mar 1;32(5):601-5.

Internal thoracic vessels used as pedicle graft for anastomosis with vascularized bone graft to reconstruct C7-T3 spinal defects: a new technique.

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1
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

A report of 4 cases of primary bone tumors (3 cases) or infection (1 case) at the cervicothoracic junction treated with resection-reconstruction.

OBJECTIVES:

To document a new technique using the internal thoracic vessels as recipient vessels for reconstruction of the cervicothoracic spine with free vascularized fibula grafts.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:

The cervicothoracic junction is a difficult region in reconstructive spinal surgery. Although nonvascularized fibula grafts can be used to reconstruct the osseous defect, compared with free vascularized fibula grafts they are biomechanical weaker, incorporate less well, are less resistant to infection, and remodel incomplete in time. However, when using free vascularized bone grafts, the selection of suitable recipient vessels remains one of the most critical decisions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Four patients who had a primary tumor (3 cases) or a severe progressive kyphotic deformity and progressive neurologic symptoms due to tuberculosis (1 case) were treated by resection and vascularized reconstruction. In 3 patients, a staged anteroposterior en bloc resection of T1-T3 (2 cases) or T1-T2 (1 case) was performed; the ventral reconstruction of the osseous defect consisted of a vascularized fibula graft interposition between C7-T4 (2 cases) or C7-T3 (1 case). In another case, an axial slot was milled through the T1-T2 vertebral bodies to accept an osteotomized vascularized fibular graft. In all cases, a free vascularized fibula graft was used: the vascular anastomosis was performed between the peroneal and the dissected and rerouted internal thoracic vessels. The anterior construction was strengthened by a ventral plate-screw system.

RESULTS:

The resection-reconstruction procedures, including the dissection, rerouting, and anastomosis between the internal thoracic vessels and the peroneal vessels, were successfully performed. At present, all patients are alive, and there is no evidence of recurrent disease, unchanged, or improved neurologic with a mean follow-up of 28 months. All grafts are well incorporated. CONCLUSIONS.: A combined low anterolateral cervical and midsternal approach or a midline sternotomy allows not only a safe and excellent exposure to the cervicothoracic junction but also to the internal thoracic vessels. The internal thoracic vessels are appropriate donor vessels: its longevity, diameter, length, and rerouting capacity allow vascularized graft reconstruction of vertebral column defects of the low cervical (C6-C7) and/or upper thoracic (T1-T3) region.

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