Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is one form of inflammatory arthritis, in which the joints and ligaments of the spine become inflamed. This condition can also effect other joints, eyes, lungs, and the heart.

Approximately 129 of every 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. About a third of all persons diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis may have symptoms that affect other parts of the body besides the joints and ligaments, including the heart and blood vessels.

This condition tends to be inherited, and generally occurs in men between the ages of 16 and 30, but can also occur in women. The majority of people with ankylosing spondylitis have a gene called HLA-B27. Your primary care physician or Rheumatologist may do blood test for anemia, an elevated sedimentation rate, and for the HLA-B27 gene when diagnosing Ankylosing Spondylitis. A spine surgeon will confirm the diagnosis with x-rays, MRI’s, and CT scans.

The earlier Ankylosing Spondylitis is treated, the better. As your body tries to heal itself, new bone forms forming vertical bony outgrowths (syndesmophytes) and fusing the vertebras together causing the spine to become stiff and inflexible. Spontaneous fusion can also stiffen the rib cage, restricting lung capacity and function. The treatment options include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication, Corticosteroids, and surgery.

Surgical Treatment:

Patients who require surgical intervention generally have a progressive posture deformity such as “chin on chest”, chronic stiffness, stooping, fatigue, and a decreased range of motion.
Spinal balance is achieved by overcorrecting the deformity. A cervical osteotomy, typically performed at C7-T1, can restore the spinal balance. The patient on the left was treated with anterior and posterior osteotmies and halo.

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