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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1990 Mar;72(2):259-65.

Severe spondylolisthesis in children and adolescents. A long-term review of fusion in situ.

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  • 1Orthopaedic Hospital of the Invalid Foundation, Helsinki, Finland.


From 1948 to 1980, 93 children and adolescents had fusion in situ for severe spondylolisthesis with a slip of 50% or more, at a mean age of 14.8 years. Of these, 52 girls and 35 boys were reviewed after a mean follow-up of 13.8 years. The mean pre-operative slip was 76% and pain frequency correlated with the severity of the lumbosacral kyphosis but not with that of the slip. Posterior fusion was used in 54, posterolateral in 30 and anterior fusion in three patients. There were no major complications but 16 had re-operations for non-union or root symptoms. At follow-up there were three non-unions. After operation, 19 patients had 10% or more progression of the slip, but 10 showed correction by more than 10% as a result of remodelling. The lumbosacral kyphosis had increased by more than 10 degrees in 45%. Postoperative progression of the slip and of lumbosacral kyphosis was significantly more if the posterior element had been removed. At follow-up 77 patients were subjectively improved, four were unchanged, and one was worse. These results did not correlate with either the degree of the slip, or the angle of lumbosacral kyphosis. Fusion in situ is safe and gives good long-term clinical results. Secondary changes are associated with increased lumbosacral kyphosis, so reduction of this should be considered in severe cases.

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