Surgical management of contiguous multilevel thoracolumbar tuberculous spondylitis.
ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION: Tuberculous spondylitis (TBS) is the most common form of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis. The mainstay of TBS management is anti-tuberculous chemotherapy. Most of the patients with TBS are treated conservatively; however in some patients surgery is indicated. Most common indications for surgery include neurological deficit, deformity, instability, large abscesses and necrotic tissue mass or inadequate response to anti-tuberculous chemotherapy. The most common form of TBS involves a single motion segment of spine (two adjoining vertebrae and their intervening disc). Sometimes TBS involves more than two adjoining vertebrae, when it is called multilevel TBS. Indications for correct surgical management of multilevel TBS is not clear from literature. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We have retrospectively reviewed 87 patients operated in 10 years for multilevel TBS involving the thoracolumbar spine at our spine unit. Two types of surgeries were performed on these patients. In 57 patients, modified Hong Kong operation was performed with radical debridement, strut grafting and anterior instrumentation. In 30 patients this operation was combined with pedicle screw fixation with or without correction of kyphosis by osteotomy. Patients were followed up for correction of kyphosis, improvement in neurological deficit, pain and function. Complications were noted. On long-term follow-up (average 64 months), there was 9.34 % improvement in kyphosis angle in the modified Hong Kong group and 47.58 % improvement in the group with pedicle screw fixation and osteotomy in addition to anterior surgery (p < 0.001). Seven patients had implant failures and revision surgeries in the modified Hong Kong group. Neurological improvement, pain relief and functional outcome were the same in both groups. CONCLUSION: We conclude that pedicle screw fixation with or without a correcting osteotomy should be added in all patients with multilevel thoracolumbar tuberculous spondylitis undergoing radical debridement and anterior column reconstruction.