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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1988 Jan;13(1):33-8.

Thoracolumbar "burst" fractures treated conservatively: a long-term follow-up.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City.


This report addresses the long-term results of nonoperative treatment for fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Forty-two patients meeting specified inclusion criteria were contacted and completed questionnaires. In all cases, nonoperative treatment was the only treatment received. The average time from injury to follow-up was 20.2 years (range, 11 to 55 years). The average age at follow-up was 43 years (range, 28 to 70 years). There were 31 men and 11 women in this series. Seventy-one percent of the injuries were the result of motor vehicle accidents. The most common sites of injury were T12-L2, which accounted for 64% of the injuries. Seventy-eight percent of the patients had no neurologic deficits at the time of injury. At follow-up, the average back pain score was 3.5, with 0 being no pain at all and 10 being very severe pain. No patient demonstrated a decrease in their neurologic status at follow-up, and no patient required narcotic medication for pain control. Eighty-eight percent of patients were able to work at their usual level of activity. Follow-up radiographs revealed an average kyphosis angle of 26.4 degrees in flexion and 16.8 degrees in extension. The degree of kyphosis did not correlate with pain or function at follow-up. Based on this review, nonoperative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures remains as a viable alternative in patients without neurologic deficit and can lead to acceptable long-term results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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