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Eur Spine J. 2009 Jul;18(7):927-34; discussion 935-7. doi: 10.1007/s00586-009-1027-4. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Multiple revisions of a L2 burst fracture in a suicide jumper: a retrospective analysis of what went wrong.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Charité, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany.


A 35-year-old female patient sustained three contiguous vertebral fractures at the thoracolumbar junction while jumping off the third floor in a suicide attempt. Initial fracture treatment occurred in the setting of a multiple injury scenario. While the Th12 and the L1 vertebral fractures were considered stable, the L2 fracture exhibited a complete burst configuration with 80% canal compromise due to a posterior wall fragment causing paraplegia. A posterior pedicle screw stabilisation with indirect fracture reduction was carried out initially from T12 to L3. At 1 year follow-up the patient presented to us for new onset radiculopathy L2, and loss of correction. A circumferential revision surgery with an expandable cage was carried out to restore the anterior and posterior columns. Unfortunately again loss of reduction with kyphosis occurred, this time at the upper instrumented vertebra, which made another revision necessary. In this situation a longer construct was chosen using a combined approach and a Mesh cage. This later procedure was complicated by a postoperative paraparesis believed to be vascular in origin. Six months later a further complication involving MSSA deep wound infection required a series of irrigation debridement for healing. At the 2.5 years follow up the spine was stable and the patient had a neurologic recovery allowing her to ambulate with crutches. This Grand Round Case raises the question on the initial management of multiply injured patients with spine fracture, the classification of these fractures, the optimal initial internal fixation, the need for complementary anterior column reconstruction and the strategy when all these fails.

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