Thoracic burst fracture

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  • Unstable (usually)
  • Mechanism: axial loading with flexion compromising anterior and middle column
  • Retropulsion of bone causes damage to the spinal canal and neurologic deficits that often cause stable neurologic deterioration.
  • Can occur with or without injury to posterior elements (posterior involvement increases risk for neuro deficits)
  • Be certain not to mistakenly call a burst fracture a wedge fracture

Vertebral fractures and dislocations types

Vertebral anatomy.
Numbering order of vertebrae.

Clinical Features

Differential Diagnosis

Thoracic Trauma


  • Obtain CT if unsure (vs. wedge)


  • Consult Orthopedics or Neurosurgery (Institution dependent)
  • Depending on neurologic symptoms and features of the fracture- can be managed nonoperatively


See Also

External Links