alexa The nonoperative treatment of burst fractures of the thoracolumbar junction.


Journal of Spine

Author(s): Reid DC, Hu R, Davis LA, Saboe LA

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Abstract Treatment of thoracolumbar spine burst fracture with a neurologically intact patient is controversial, with advocates of operative and nonoperative approaches. Of 404 patients in a prospective spinal trauma study, 21 had burst fractures, were neurologically intact, and had greater than 1-year followup. This group was analyzed to evaluate treatment with early mobilization using a thoracolumbar total contact orthosis. The average time in a brace was 6 months. Two patients had pulmonary embolus treated successfully with anticoagulants. No patient required subsequent surgery for increasing kyphosis or neurologic deficit. Change in K angle at followup was 4.6 degrees (+/- 5.7) and change in anterior vertebral height was 6.1 degrees (+/- 10). All patients had a satisfactory pain score and most individuals returned to full employment. It is concluded that it is not necessary to routinely treat patients operatively with burst fractures if they fulfill the following criteria: 1) neurologically intact; 2) kyphosis angle less than 35 degrees; 3) other injuries do not preclude the use of a total contact orthosis; and 4) the patient is capable of understanding and cooperating with the treatment regime. These criteria are irrespective of the CT findings of posterior vertebral retropulsion and spinal canal narrowing.
This article was published in J Trauma and referenced in Journal of Spine

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