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Tuberculosis of the thoracic spine


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In spinal tuberculosis MRI can clearly demonstrate combinations of anterior and posterior lesions as well as pedicular involvement. We propose a classification system, using information provided by MRI, to help to plan the appropriate surgical treatment for patients with thoracic spinal tuberculosis. We describe a series of 47 patients, divided into four groups, based on the surgical protocol used in the management. Group A consisted of patients with anterior lesions which were stable with no kyphotic deformity, and were treated with anterior debridement and strut grafting. Group B comprised patients with global lesions, kyphosis and instability who were treated with posterior instrumentation using a closed-loop rectangle with sublaminar wires, and by anterior strut grafting. Group C were patients with anterior or global lesions as in the previous groups, but who were at a high risk for transthoracic surgery because of medical and possible anaesthetic complications. These patients had a global decompression of the cord posteriorly, the anterior portion of the cord being approached through a transpedicular route. Posterior instrumentation was with a closed-loop rectangle held by sublaminar wires. Group D comprised patients with isolated posterior lesions which required posterior decompression only.

An understanding of the extent of vertebral destruction can be obtained from MRI studies. This information can be used to plan appropriate surgery.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr J. S. Mehta at 13 Whitehaven Close, Bromley, Kent BR2 0YA, UK.

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