SI Joint Publications

Functional and Radiographic Outcome of Sacroiliac Arthrodesis for the Disorders of the SI Joint

Buchowski JM, et al. The Spine Journal. 2005;5:520-528.


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: The sacroiliac joint is known to be a possible cause of chronic low back pain, but the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the sacroiliac joint have been difficult and controversial.

PURPOSE: To describe the outcome of sacroiliac joint arthrodesis for sacroiliac joint disorders, with the hypothesis that sacroiliac arthrodesis leads to improved postoperative function.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Consecutive case series performed in an academic medical institution.

PATIENT SAMPLE: The patient population consisted of 20 patients undergoing sacroiliac joint arthrodesis between December 1994 and December 2001. Patients undergoing concomitant procedures at the time of sacroiliac joint arthrodesis were excluded. The 3 men and 17 women in the study group had an average age of 45.1 years (range 21.8–66.4 years), a mean duration of symptoms of 2.6 years (range 0.5–8.0 years), and a mean follow-up period of 5.8 years (range 2.0–9.0 years).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcomemeasures included general health and function, clinical evaluation, and radiographic assessment.

METHODS: For all 20 patients, nonoperative treatment had failed, and for all, the diagnosis was confirmed by pain relief with intraarticular sacroiliac joint injections under fluoroscopic guidance. Sacroiliac joint arthrodesis (via a modified Smith-Petersen technique) was recommended only when a positive response to the injection was noted, and patients had recurrence of symptoms after the initial positive response. Preoperative and postoperative general health and function were assessed via the 36-item Short-Form (SF-36) Health Survey and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Modems Instrument, which were collected prospectively. Medical records and plain radiographs were reviewed retrospectively to determine the clinical and radiographic outcome.

RESULTS: Multiple etiologies of sacroiliac symptoms were observed: sacroiliac joint dysfunction (13 patients), osteoarthritis (5 patients), and spondyloarthropathy and sacroiliac joint instability (1 each). Seventeen patients (85%) had solid fusion. Fifteen patients (75%) completed preoperative and postoperative SF-36 forms. Significant (p.05) improvement occurred in the following categories: physical functioning, role physical, bodily pain, vitality, social functioning, role emotional, and neurogenic and pain indices. Improvement (not statistically significant) was also noted in general and mental health.

CONCLUSIONS: For carefully selected patients, sacroiliac arthrodesis appears to be a safe, welltolerated, and successful procedure, leading to significant improvement in functional outcome and a high fusion rate. To the authors’ knowledge, the current report is the largest series to document the functional and radiographic outcome of sacroiliac joint arthrodesis.

Keywords: Sacroiliac arthrodesis; Sacroiliac joint; Surgical treatment; Outcome

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