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Orthopedics. 2013 Jun;36(6):831-6. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20130523-33.

Anterior versus posterior fixation for the treatment of lumbar pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, China.


This study was designed to observe the clinical outcome of anterior versus posterior instrumentation in the treatment of Pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis of the lumbar spine. Twenty-three patients underwent either anterior (anterior fixation group) or posterior fixation (posterior fixation group) combined with a single-stage anterior radical debridement and had an average follow-up of 38 months. Clinical evaluation was performed using the Oswestry Disability Index and visual analog scale. Serial tests of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein levels were used to monitor for infection recurrence. Radiography was performed pre- and postoperatively to assess the deformity correction and for bony fusion. Serial erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein levels reflect the active state of infection and can guide postoperative treatment. Patients in the anterior fixation group showed significantly better results on the Oswestry Disability Index than those in the posterior fixation group 2 years postoperatively. The visual analog scale values demonstrated a significant difference between the 2 groups at 1 and 2 years postoperatively, with pain significantly improved in the anterior fixation group. Radiological results showed no significant difference in fusion time, deformity correction, and cage subsidence. Both anterior and posterior fixation had satisfactory outcomes and were reliable and safe for the treatment of Pyogenic vertebral osteomyelitis of the lumbar spine. Patients with anterior fixation may achieve better postoperative results, such as better well being and less pain.

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