Costotransversectomy in thoracic spinal tuberculosis.
Keywords:tuberculosis, thoracic spine, costotransversectomy, deformity spine surgery
BACKGROUND: The escalating global pandemic of tuberculosis infections results in 8 million new cases diagnosed each year. The thoracic and thoracolumbar spine is the most prevalent area involved in musculoskeletal tuberculosis. Deformity with associated neurological compromise, requiring extended in-patient treatment and rehabilitation, is common. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is prevalent and tissue samples are needed to obtain bacterial culture and sensitivity. Decompression of the spinal canal, directly or indirectly, should accelerate neurological recovery
METHODS: A retrospective study was performed at Tygerberg Hospital to evaluate the efficacy of costotransversectomy in spinal thoracic tuberculosis with regard to neurological recovery and deformity. Neurological status was compared at 6 months post-operatively with the pre-surgical status. The end deformity was compared with Rajasakeran's equation
RESULTS: Thirty patients met the inclusion criteria, with an average age of 37 years. Fifteen patients were HIV positive, and ten of them on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The average CD4 count was 235. The mean neurological status of the group was classified as Frankel C, but this improved to Frankel D at 6 months post-surgery. Initial sagittal deformity was 18.7°, which increased to 26° one year post-operatively. This was not significantly different from the 25.6° kyphosis predicted by the Rajasekaran formula. A 67% positive culture yield for TB was obtained which compared favourably to percutaneous transpedicular needle biopsies performed at the same institute which had a yield of 56%
CONCLUSIONS: Costotransversectomy is a simple procedure resulting in indirect decompression of the spinal cord, improving the microbiological diagnosis of spinal tuberculosis, and possibly leading to earlier neurological recovery, without the risk of creating further instability and greater deformity