Hua-Jian Chen, De-Yuan Chen, Shao-zhen Zhou, Li-li Sang, Jun-zhe Wu, Fu-li Huang

November 2022, pp 1 - 11 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07435-0

First Online: 19 November 2022


Cervical fractures with ankylosing spondylitis (CAS) are a specific type of spinal fracture with poor stability, low healing rate, and high disability rate. Its treatment is mainly surgical, predominantly through the anterior approach, posterior approach, and the anterior–posterior approach. Although many clinical studies have been conducted on various surgical approaches, controversy still exists concerning the choice of these surgical approaches by surgeons. The authors present here a systematic evaluation and meta-analysis exploring the utility of the anterior–posterior approach versus the anterior approach and the posterior approach.


After a comprehensive literature search of PubMed, Cochrane, Web of Science, and Embase databases, 12 clinical studies were included in the final qualitative analysis and 8 in the final quantitative analysis. Of these studies, 11 conducted a comparison between the anterior–posterior approach and the anterior approach and posterior approaches, while one examined only the anterior–posterior approach. Where appropriate, statistical advantage ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


The present meta-analysis of postoperative neurological improvement showed no statistical difference in the overall neurological improvement rate between the anterior–posterior approach and anterior approach (OR 1.70, 95% CI 0.61 to 4.75; p = 0.31). However, the mean change in postoperative neurological function was lower in patients who received the anterior approach than in those who received the anterior–posterior approach (MD 0.17, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.36; p = 0.08). There was an identical trend between the anterior–posterior approach and posterior approach, with no statistically significant difference in the overall rate of neurological improvement (OR 1.37, 95% CI 0.70 to 2.56; p = 0.38). Nevertheless, the mean change in neurological function was smaller in patients receiving the anterior–posterior approach compared with the posterior approach, but there was no statistically significant difference between the two (MD 0.17, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.36; p = 0.08).


The results of this review and meta-analysis suggest that the benefits of the anterior–posterior approach are different from those of the anterior and posterior approaches in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis-related cervical fractures. In a word, there is no significant difference between the cervical surgical approach and the neurological functional improvement. Therefore, surgeons should pay more attention to the type of cervical fracture, the displacement degree of cervical fracture, the spinal cord injury, the balance of cervical spine and other aspects to comprehensively consider the selection of appropriate surgical methods.

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