Objective: The aim of this study was to describe minimally invasive spinal stabilization using a unilateral uniplanar external skeletal fixator (ESF, type 1a) with polymethylmethacrylate, and to review short- and long-term outcomes and complications in a clinical case series.
Materials and methods: Medical records from animals affected by spinal fracture luxation were reviewed. The data included breed, age, gender, body weight, aetiology, preoperative and postoperative neurological state, radiographic findings, surgical treatment, pin size, number of pins and stabilized vertebrae, intra- and postoperative complications and neurological state at re-examinations.
Results: Thirty-two animals were identified; three were treated conservatively, 19 surgically and 10 were euthanatized. In eight dogs and six cats, the injured spinal column was treated with a laterally applied percutaneous type 1a ESF under fluoroscopic guidance. Positive profile end-threaded pins inserted were from 1.6/1.9 to 3.5/4.3 mm in dogs and 1.6/1.9 to 2/2.3 mm in cats and were placed into two to five vertebral bodies. At the re-examinations, the neurological status had improved in 12 animals, deteriorated in one, and was unchanged in another one. In eight cases, no complications were detected. The most common complications included erythema, exudation and pin loosening.
Conclusion: The present work shows that type 1a ESF can be successfully and minimally invasively applied to fractures and luxations of the spine in dogs and cats with minimal major complications.