Treatment of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis in children and adolescents.

Dubousset J. Clin Orthop 1997 Apr;(337):77-85

The treatment of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis in children depends on the severity of clinical symptoms, pathologic anatomy, and prognosis. Simple spondylolysis can be cured by immobilization alone in selected cases, or by surgery when it remains symptomatic and resistant to nonoperative treatment. The majority of cases are asymptomatic and require no treatment. Spondylolisthesis is classified into 2 types based on the magnitude of the lumbosacral angle: spondylolisthesis with a horizontal sacrum (lumbosacral angle > or = 100 degrees), which seldom requires surgical treatment, usually responds to orthotic management, and generally shows little progression; spondylolisthesis with a vertical sacrum (lumbosacral angle < 100 degrees) which is always progressive, can produce neurologic impairment and cosmetic and functional disability, and requires surgical treatment. In 17 cases the author has reduced the latter deformity by gradual traction in hyperextension followed by cast immobilization, then stabilized the reduction by posterolateral fusion performed through the cast without instrumentation and without opening the spinal canal. When the lumbosacral angle is not improved to 100 degrees or more by hyperextension and traction, an anterior console interbody fusion is added before the posterolateral fusion.