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Predictors of outcome in the non-operative management of thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures.
British journal of neurosurgery
  • Patrick W Hitchon
  • Wenzhuan He, Lehigh Valley Health Network
  • Stephen Viljoen
  • Nader S Dahdaleh
  • Rajinder Kumar
  • Jennifer Noeller
  • James Torner
Publication/Presentation Date

AIM: Burst fractures without neurological deficit are often treated successfully without surgery. A subgroup may fail non-operative treatment owing to pain, and opt for surgery. The following review was conducted to identify predictors of success or failure in the non-operative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures.

METHODS: A cohort of 60 patients with T11-L4 thoracolumbar burst fractures were treated non-operatively, with bed rest and bracing until the pain abated sufficiently to allow mobilization. Patients were followed prospectively for a mean ± SD of 12 ± 14 months, and their data were reviewed retrospectively.

RESULTS: Fifty-one patients successfully completed non-operative treatment. Owing to intractable pain in nine, surgery was undertaken. Ages in the non-operative and operative groups were 46 ± 18 and 68 ± 15 years respectively (p = 0.002). The residual canal and angulation at the site of the fracture were 63 ± 12% and 1.6 ± 8.4° in the non-operative group and 47 ± 15% and 6.6 ± 13.6° in the surgical group (p = 0.001 and 0.149 between groups, respectively). Regression analysis of age, gender, angulation, and residual canal showed that only age (OR, 1.099; 95% CI, 1.022-1.183; p = 0.011) and residual canal (OR, 0.795; 95% CI, 0.642-0.985; p = 0.035) were significant predictors of failure, ultimately undergoing surgery.

CONCLUSION: Non-surgical treatment was more likely to prove sufficient in patients aged 46 ± 18 years, and residual canal of 63 ± 12%, than in older patients with ages of 68 ± 15, and canal of 47 ± 15%. The latter group was more likely to fail, undergoing surgery because of pain or instability.

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Citation Information

HITCHON, PW; et al. Predictors of outcome in the non-operative management of thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures. British Journal Of Neurosurgery. England, 28, 5, 653-657, Oct. 2014. ISSN: 1360-046X.