The results of vascularized-free fibular grafts in complex spinal reconstruction

Duncan B. Ackerman, Peter S. Rose, Steven L. Moran, Mark B. Dekutoski, Allen T. Bishop, Alexander Y. Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Study Design: Retrospective review. Objective: To determine outcomes after anterior or posterior placement of vascularized-free fibular grafts in complex spinal reconstruction for tumor resection and osteomyelitis and to evaluate the results with respect to bony fusion, time to union, and complications. Summary of Background Data: Biological reconstruction of segmental defects of the spinal column may be required when multiple vertebras are resected for tumor or infection. Published series to date have not fully addressed surgical techniques or outcome and complications. Methods: A retrospective, Institutional Review Board-approved review was performed on the medical records and neuroimaging of all patients who underwent a vascularized-free fibular graft for a multisegmental spine reconstruction at a single institution over the last 10 years. Details regarding indications, the levels spanned, the graft length, and the time to union were evaluated. Results: Seven patients (mean age, 43 y) underwent surgery using this technique, with an average follow-up of 38 months. Surgical indications included oncologic resection associated with radiation therapy (n=3) and surgical treatment of vertebral osteomyelitis (n=4). An average of 2.7 (median, 2) levels was fused with an average of 2.1 (median, 2) vertebral body excisions performed. Mean fibular length was 19.1 cm. Six of 7 patients achieved union at mean of 3.2 months. Complications specific to the fibular grafting procedure included 1 nonunion associated with pedicle thrombosis. Conclusions: Vascularized-free fibular grafts are effective in the treatment of complex spinal reconstruction after surgery for spinal tumors or osteomyelitis. The vascularized-free fibular graft adds structural support as well as living bone to the fusion site and is a reasonable alternative to nonvascularized grafts in locally compromised surgical beds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Vascularized bone graft
  • free fibular graft
  • spinal reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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