Author(s): Limb D, Shaw DL, Dickson RA
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Abstract Many authors recommend surgery to remove retropulsed bone fragments from the canal in burst fractures to 'decompress' the spinal canal. We believe, however, that neurological damage occurs at the moment of injury when the anatomy is most distorted, and is not due to impingement in the resting positions observed afterwards. We studied 20 consecutive patients admitted to our spinal injuries unit over a two-year period with a T12 or L1 burst fracture. There was no correlation between bony or canal disruption and the degree of neurological compromise sustained but there was a significant correlation between the energy of the injury (as gauged by the Injury Severity Score) and the neurological status (p < 0.001). This suggests that neurological injury occurs at the time of trauma rather than being a result of pressure from fragments in the canal afterwards and questions the need to operate simply to remove these fragments.
This article was published in J Bone Joint Surg Br
and referenced in Journal of Spine