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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 329-335

Ankylosing spondylitis traumatic subaxial cervical fractures – An updated treatment algorithm

1 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
2 Department of Neuroradiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Correspondence Address:
Gazanfar Rahmathulla
UF Health College of Medicine – Jacksonville, 580W 8th St, Tower 1 8th Floor, Jacksonville 32209, Florida
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.jcvjs_131_21

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Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a rheumatologic disease characterized by ankylosis and ligament ossification of the spine with an elevated risk of vertebrae fractures at the cervical level or cervicothoracic junction. AS related cervical fractures (ASCFs) require early diagnosis and a treatment plan that considers the high risk for additional fractures to avoid neurological complications or death. We present the case of a patient with an ASCF and a review of the literature with key recommendations that shape our algorithm for the proper diagnosis and treatment of ASCFs. We present the case of a 29-year-old male with an ASCF at C5-C6 treated initially with a short segment instrumented arthrodesis that required an additional operation to properly stabilize and protect his spine. Based on our experience with this case and a review of the literature, we discuss three recommendations to improve ASCF management. These include the need for early computed tomography/magnetic resonance image for proper diagnoses, combined surgical approach with long-segment stabilization for maximum stability. Delayed diagnosis or revision surgery, both of which are common in these patients who present with a stiffened and osteoporotic spine, may lead to spinal cord injury or neurologic deficits. Our recommendations based on the most recent evidence can help surgeons better manage these patients and decrease their overall morbidity and mortality.

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