[Thoracolumbar fractures. Pathomorphology and indications for treatment]

Published online: Dec 27 1998

J Senegas.

Unité de Pathologie Rachidienne, CHR de Bordeaux, France.


The indications for conservative and surgical management of fractures of the thoracolumbar spine are reviewed, based upon the morphology of the lesions, which is assessed by meticulous analysis of radiographs, CT scan and in some cases MRI. The author advocates using the AO classification, which considers several subtypes of fractures: compression fractures, distraction fractures and fractures with multidirectional displacement. The indication for treatment is based upon morphological analysis of the lesions, while other factors such as the general condition of the patient or the locally available surgical environment must also be taken into consideration. Up to 50% of thoracolumbar fractures can benefit from surgical management, with posterior or anterior stabilisation, the latter performed through thorascoscopy in selected cases.