Vol.2, No.5, 281-284 (2013) Case Reports in Clinical Medicine
Case report of tubercular spondylodiscitis with
paraplegia managed by posterior transpedicular
decompression and pedicle screw fixation*
Paragjyoti Gogoi1#, Anshuman Dutta1, Vikash Agarwala1, Prasant a Sonowal2
1Department of Orthopaedics & Trauma , Silchar Medic al College, Silchar, India; #Corresponding Author: pggogoiparag@gmail.com
2Department of Anaesthesiology, Silchar Medical College, Silchar, India
Received 20 May 2013; revised 21 June 2013; accepted 25 July 2013
Copyright © 2013 Paragjyoti Gogoi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Pott’s paraplegia is still prevalent in this part of
the world. Early onset paraplegia can be im-
proved by timely surgical intervention under
ATT cover. The disease mostly affects the tho-
raco-lumbar spine. Classically, the diseased area
is addressed by anterior thoracic or thoraco-
lumbar approach and after curettage of the dis-
eased and necrotic material the anterior column
is reconstructed by rib or fibular strut graft or
metallic cage and supplemented by posterior
instrumentation and fusion. Laminectomy, as a
method of decompression, was greatly discour-
aged in spinal tuberculosis with compressive
myelopath y except in posterior element involve-
ment. We present a case of a 35 years old lady
with Pott’s paraplegia treated by hemilaminec-
tomy and transpedicular limited anterior decom-
pression of the cord and pedicle screw fixation
with fusion who improved vastly in terms of
motor power.
Keywords: Spinal TB; Pott’s Paraplegia; Adult;
Hemi-Laminectomy; Pedicle Screw; Fusion
Spinal tuberculosis is still a cause of major morbidity.
Millions of people are still affected by this ailment. Be-
cause of the improved chemotherapy the mortality is
now reduced to a great extent. Many cases got improve-
ment by chemotherapy alone. Only some selected cases
require surgical treatment. Spinal tuberculosis is notori-
ous for producing spinal deformities and neurological
involvement like paraplegia. In such cases immediate
surgical intervention becomes necessary to regain normal
or useful motor function [1].
Pott’s paraplegia can occur due to compression of the
spinal cord by soft material like tubercular abscess, cas-
eous mass or granulation tissue or by hard material like
internal gibbus, bony sequestrum or a sequestrated disc.
We report a case of Spinal tubercu losis at D12 and L1
level presenting with paraplegia with bowel and bladder
involvement who regained completely normal motor
function and bowel and bladder control after posterior
decompression and stabilization with pedicle screw rod
A lady of 35 years old presented to us with complete
loss of all motor function of her both lower limbs with
retention of urine and pain over the lower dorsal spine.
She had a history of back pain for one month associated
with fever off and on. She did not sustain any trauma
over the area nor was there any history of cough for
prolonged duration or significant weight loss.
On examination both the lower limbs were flaccid
with grade 0 motor power according to MRC grading.
She did not feel the sensation of bladder fullness. Her
sensation was diminished from L1 dermatome.
The spine examination revealed a kyphus deformity at
D12 and L1 level with mild tenderness. Wasting of para-
spinal muscles were also noted. Plain X-ray showed obli-
teration of D12, L1 disc space along with destruction of
inferior part of body of D12 and superior part of body of
L1 as well as wedging at that level. No obvious para-
spinal soft tissue shadow was noted.
MRI scan of the Dorso-lumbar Spine confirmed the
X-ray findings (Figures 1 and 2). There was destruction
of the vertebrae with compression of the spinal cord at
*Consent: Informed consent obtained from the patient regarding pre-
sentation and publication of t h i s c a s e .
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
P. Gogoi et al. / Case Reports in Clinical Medicine 2 (2013) 281-284
D12 and L1 level. Mild abscess noted in and around the
destructed vertebrae. Pedi cles were normal at all levels.
Blood examination showed increase ESR level and
lymphocytosis. Her liver and renal function tests were
within normal limits.
From the clinical history, physical examination and
relevant investigation findings the diagnosis of Pott’s
paraplegia was made and four drugs combination che-
motherapy started. Early surgical intervention was planned
to decompress the cord and stabilize the spine.
The spine was exposed from the posterior aspect. It
was then stabilized with four pedicle screws, two at D11
level and two at L2 level. Hemilaminectomy done at D12
vertebra on right side and the right pedicle was gradually
removed with rongeours and nibblers. The cord was de-
compressed anteriorly by an angulated rongeour remov-
ing the diseased material partly from the D12 body. Col-
lectively the cord was decompressed anteriorly, laterally
and partly posteriorly. Posterolateral fusion with bone
graft was undertaken and the surgical wound was closed
in layers.
Figure 1. MRI scan of the affected spine.
Figure 2. MRI scan of the affected spine.
Post-operatively the patient was continued with che-
motherapy along with assisted physiotherapy. Her motor
power gradually improved after the surgery and she re-
gained motor power of grade 3 after four weeks and
grade 4 after eight weeks. Her bladder control came back
after four weeks and she started walking with walker
from eight weeks with a Taylor brace. Her back pain
resolved and no episode of fever was noted after the op-
eration (Figure 3).
After about eight months following the surgery her
pedicle screws started to back out with pseudoarthosis at
the fused level (Figure 4). However there was no dete-
rioration in her neurological status. The pedicle screws
were revised incorporating one more level below (Figure
5). Six months down the line, the patient is doing well.
There is no pain at the back; no sign of screw back out.
Fusion is still doubtful, but the anterior column structures
healed completely and there is no progression of the ky-
photic angle (Figure 6).
Surgical treatment for spinal tuberculosis with para-
plegia is constantly evolving. Neurological involvement
warrant early surgical intervention. In earlier days the
spinal canal was decompressed by simple laminectomy
Figure 3. Post-operative X-ray after
the first surgery.
Figure 4. Development of pseudo-ar-
throsis and Screw backout at 8 months.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
P. Gogoi et al. / Case Reports in Clinical Medicine 2 (2013) 281-284 283
Figure 5. After revision surgery.
Figure 6. Six months follow up X-ray after the
revision surgery.
via posterior approach. Patients used to recover from the
neural compression but the spine became unstable. As
majority of spinal tuberculosis involve and destruct the
anterior column, the only stabilizin g structure preven ting
the kyphosis remained the posterior elements. So, lami-
nectomy further destabilizes the spinal column. For this
reason and lack of proper instrumentation from the pos-
terior aspect laminectomy was disfavored later on. Sed-
don even condemned laminectomy as a surgical proce-
dure for spinal tuberculosis [2].
Hemilaminectomy or removal of half of the lamina to
decompress the spinal canal was used for easy posterior
approach as well as lesser destabilizing effect on the spi-
nal column.
Costo-transversectomy and antero-lateral decompres-
sion were two procedures slowly gaining popularity [3].
Costo-transversectomy is a simple procedure for drain-
age of the abscess in thoracic region. In the antero-lateral
decompression procedure the spinal canal is decom-
pressed by sacrificing the pedicle as well as the anterior
diseased material. They do not address the radical re-
moval of diseased vertebrae or reconstruction of anterior
column; hence nothing to do with spinal stability or pro-
gression of the deformity.
Hodgeson et al. during their Hong kong experience de-
vised the radical excision of the diseased area by anterior
thoracic or thoraco-lumbar approach and reconstructing
the anterior column by rib graft. They noted significant
improvement in terms of mortality, spinal stability and
cure from the infection [4].
Rajasekaran and Soundarapandian noted failure of rib
graft and progression of kyphosis following the Hong-
kong procedure [5]. They reported fibular graft as better
alternative. In another study they proposed a formula for
expected progression of the kyphotic angle from the ini-
tial radiographic measurement of destruction [6].
Anterior column is reconstructed by rib grafts, fibular
strut graft, metallic cage along with anterior instrumenta-
tion like locking plates. They can be supplemented by
posterior instrumentation and fusion.
Posterior stabilization was earlier done by closed rec-
tangles with sublaminar wires; rod and laminar hook
constructs like Herrington’s, Luque rod system [7]. Pre-
sently these are mostly replaced by pedicle screw-rod
system. All of them act as a tension band in stabilizing
the spine; so the anterior column continuity is a prereq-
uisite for them.
Anterior column reconstruction from the posterior
transpedicular approach has slowly gained popularity.
The diseased material is curetted from the posterior as-
pect, the cord got decompressed from both anterior and
lateral aspect and expandable cage fills the anterior col-
umn defect. Posterior instrumentation then stabilizes the
spine. This procedure obviates the morbidity associated
with anterior thoracotomy approach. This approach is
utilized in vertebral osteomyelitis [8], osteoporotic com-
pression fractures [9], metastatic spinal tumours [10].
Mehta and Bhojraj proposed a MRI dependent classi-
fication system of spinal tuberculosis where they catego-
rized them into four groups. They advocated posterior
transpedicular decompression in the group who cannot
tolerate the thoracotomy [11]. Guven et al. also showed
good result in their cases treated by this approach [12].
Posterior instrumentation was chosen in our patient as
they are familiar to us as a routine procedure in trau matic
spine stabilizations. Pedicle screws offer sufficient stabi-
lizing power and hemilaminectomy along with transpedi-
cular limited anterior decompression ensures spinal cord
Good chemotherapy helps in rapid healing of the ante-
rior column and gives anterior support. Kyphosis pro-
gression usually stops after healing of the anterior col-
umn and posterior fusion. In our case kyphosis pro-
gressed and fusion failed resulting in pseudoarthrosis as
there was no adequate anterior support during the healing
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. OPEN ACCESS
P. Gogoi et al. / Case Reports in Clinical Medicine 2 (2013) 281-284
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
period. Revised posterior instrumentation along with fu-
sion is doing well because of anterior support provided
by the healed anterior structures which were clinically
confirmed during revision surgery.
Posterior transpedicular limited anterior decompres-
sion is a viable option in Pott’s paraplegia. However, an-
terior column reconstruction is important in preventing
kyphosis progression. Pseudoarthrosis may be present in
infective spinal conditions also.
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