Functional and radiographic outcome of thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures managed by closed orthopaedic reduction and casting

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Nov 1;28(21):2459-65. doi: 10.1097/01.BRS.0000090834.36061.DD.


Study design: Retrospective review.

Objectives: To determine clinical and radiographic outcomes of thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures without neurologic injury treated by closed reduction and casting. Patient factors associated with poor outcome are identified.

Summary of background data: The results of ambulatory bracing, surgery, and prolonged recumbency for burst fractures have been reported. There are no reports of results of closed reduction and casting.

Methods: Retrospective review of 41 neurologically intact patients with thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures was performed. Four patients with neurologic injury who refused surgery were included, for a total of 45 patients. All patients had closed reduction and casting. Functional, pain, and employment status were assessed using the Denis system. Neurologic function was graded using the Frankel scale. Radiographic evaluation of vertebral kyphosis, regional kyphosis, anterior body compression, and sagittal index were performed at time of injury, postreduction, 4 months, and final follow-up.

Results: Sixty-four percent of patients had minimal or no pain. Eight percent had constant, severe pain. At time of injury, 71% of patients were employed. At 8-month follow-up, 58% of patients were employed. Closed reduction resulted in significant correction of vertebral wedging from a mean of 15 degrees to 5 degrees. Deformity tended to recur by 4 months, but the degree of residual deformity appears to be less than that reported in other series. No complications resulted from the fracture reduction procedure.

Conclusions: Closed reduction and casting of thoracolumbar and lumbar burst fractures is a safe treatment method that yields acceptable functional and radiographic results.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Casts, Surgical*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures / therapy*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Traction / instrumentation
  • Traction / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome