To compare the effectiveness of surgical intervention to conservative treatment in patients with thoracolumbar fracture and thoracolumbar injury classification and severity score (TLICS) of 4.
Twenty-five patients with TLICS 4 were enrolled in this non-randomized clinical trial. Based on clinical symptoms and radiologic findings, patients were considered under surgical or conservative treatments. The JOA Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire (JOABPEQ) was assessed at baseline and at 3, 6, 12 months after treatment. A 20-point improvement from the baseline JOABPEQ scores was considered as clinical success in both the conservative and surgery groups. Additionally, residual canal, angulations and height loss were determined in all patients.
Eight patients received conservative and 17 surgical treatment. Both study groups were comparable regarding the baseline characteristics. Both study demonstrated treatment success, regarding functional recovery when compared to baseline (p<0.001). However, those undergoing surgical intervention had significantly better JOABPEQ score (p<0.001) and higher residual canal (p=0.042) when compared to those receiving conservative therapy. The success rate of treatment was comparable between the two study groups in 6- (p=0.998) and 12-month (p=0.852) intervals; however, surgical therapy had significantly higher success arte in 3-month interval (p=0.031).
Our findings revealed that surgical treatment was preferred more in comparison to conservative treatment in patients with TLICS 4. Additionally, residual canal might be a modifying factor to decide the ideal therapeutic approach. Clinical Trial Registry: IRCT2017010920258N25
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