Does combined anterior-posterior approach improve outcomes compared with posterior only approach in traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures? A systematic review

Terence Tan, Tom J. Donohoe, Milly Shu-Jing Huang, Joost Rutges, Travis Marion, Joseph Mathew, Mark Fitzgerald, Jin Tee

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the surgical, radiological, and functional outcomes of posterior-only versus combined anterior-posterior approaches in patients with traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures. The ideal approach (anterior-only, posterior-only, or combined anterior-posterior) for the surgical management of thoracolumbar burst fracture remains controversial, with each approach having its advantages and disadvantages. A systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines was performed (registration no., CRD42018115120). The authors reviewed comparative studies evaluating posterior-only approach compared with combined anterior-posterior approaches with respect to clinical, surgical, radiographic, and functional outcome measures. Five retrospective cohort studies were included. Postoperative neurological deterioration was not reported in either group. Operative time, estimated blood loss, and postoperative length of stay were increased among patients in the combined anterior-posterior group in one study and equivalent between groups in another study. No significant difference was observed between the two approaches with regards to long-term postoperative Cobb angle (mean difference,-0.2; 95% confidence interval,-5.2 to 4.8; p =0.936). Moreover, no significant difference in functional patient outcomes was observed in the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey, Visual Analog Scale, and return-to-work rates between the two groups. The available evidence does not indicate improved clinical, radiologic (including kyphotic deformity), and functional outcomes in the combined anterior-posterior and posterior-only approaches in the management of traumatic thoracolumbar burst fractures. Further studies are required to ascertain if a subset of patients will benefit from a combined anterior-posterior approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-398
Number of pages11
JournalAsian Spine Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Fracture fixation
  • Lumbar vertebrae
  • Spinal fractures
  • Thoracic vertebrae

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