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Pathologic thoracic spine fracture in presence of Parkinson’s disease and diffuse ankylosis: successful management of a challenging condition

Yasuchika Aoki1*, Arata Nakajima1, Ryuji Sakakibara2, Seiji Ohtori3, Kazuhisa Takahashi3 and Koichi Nakagawa1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Toho University Sakura Medical Center, 654-1 Shimoshizu, Sakura, Chiba 285-8741, Japan

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Toho University Sakura Medical Center, Sakura, Chiba, Japan

3 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan

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Citation and License

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-61

Published: 11 February 2013



Patients with Parkinson’s disease have higher risk of complications and revision surgery following spine surgery. Spinal fracture in an ankylosed spine is also difficult to treat. We recently treated a case of thoracic spine fracture in a patient with Parkinson’s disease complicating a severely ankylosed spine. There is no report describing surgical treatment of spine fracture in such a difficult condition, thus, we firstly report the case and discuss the reasons for a successful result.

Case presentations

A 68-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease had a pathologic thoracic spine fracture at T11. Four days after onset, he was referred to a local hospital because of gradually increasing back pain, but no spinal fracture was pointed out at that time. Because he developed lower extremity bilateral numbness and weakness, he was transported to our hospital, eight days after onset. When referred to our hospital, he exhibited severe back pain and paralysis of the lower extremities due to spinal cord involvement. Emergency surgery was performed. Decompression of T10-11 was performed followed by instrumented spinal fusion from T8 to L2. A dramatic neurological improvement was observed following surgery, and complete bony fusion was achieved. At the final two-year postoperative follow-up, the patient had no pathological symptoms related to spinal fracture and no instrument failure was observed.


This patient had Parkinson’s disease and a severely ankylosed spine, both of which may lead to unsatisfactory surgical results from spinal surgery. Generally, patients with Parkinson’s disease have an increased risk for adjacent segment disease and instrument failure. In this patient, fusion surgery did not change the number of fused segments because operated segments were already ankylosed. Because no stress force exists between adjacent vertebral bodies, a severely ankylosed spine may help prevent screw pullout. Thus, treatment of a spinal fracture in an ankylosed spinal segment is a less adverse condition for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Our experience led us to think that a combination of Parkinson’s disease with severely ankylosed spine does not necessarily suggest unsatisfactory outcomes after surgical treatment of spinal fracture.

Parkinson’s disease; Spinal fracture; Ankylosed spine; Ankylosis; Fusion surgery