Expandable versus nonexpandable cages for thoracolumbar burst fracture

Mohammed A. Eleraky, Huy T. Duong, Erin Esp, Kee D Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background Burst fractures account for more than half of all thoracolumbar fractures and are frequently associated with spine instability and neurological deficit. The anterior approach is favored when decompression of the spinal canal is necessary. We compare two commonly available struts used for anterior approach after corpectomy: expandable versus nonexpandable titanium cages. Methods We retrospectively evaluated 32 patients with acute thoracolumbar burst fractures treated by a single surgeon with a mean follow-up of 13 months. Half of the patients had nonexpandable cages placed (group 1) and the other half had expandable cages placed (group 2). Anterolateral plate/screw supplementation was used in all patients. Radiographs were reviewed to assess kyphosis correction and bony fusion. Results In group 1, the mean kyphotic angle before surgery was 20.5 degrees. Immediately after surgery, this angle improved to 6 degrees and was 8.5 degrees at final follow-up. In group 2, the mean kyphotic angle before surgery was 21.5 degrees. This angle improved to 4 degrees immediately after surgery and was 6.5 degrees at final follow-up. At the end of follow-up, 2 of 16 patients in group 1 demonstrated pseudoarthrosis, whereas no patients in group 2 showed any evidence of nonunion. No patient in either group experienced hardware failure or new neurological deficit. Conclusions Anterior decompression and instrumented stabilization with either an expandable or nonexpandable cage is a safe and reliable surgical treatment option for unstable thoracolumbar burst fractures. Expandable cage enables greater immediate correction of kyphosis with good fusion rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Anterior reconstruction
  • Burst fracture
  • Expandable cage
  • Kyphosis
  • Spine fusion
  • Titanium cage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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