An unusual natural history of a L5-S1 spondylolisthesis presenting with a sacral insufficiency fracture

Eur Spine J. 2006 Apr;15(4):506-9. doi: 10.1007/s00586-005-1011-6. Epub 2005 Oct 25.


Sacral insufficiency fractures have been described in association with conditions leading to osteoporosis. No association with spondylolisthesis has been described to date. A 60-year-old patient with known lumbosacral isthmic spondylolisthesis presented with exacerbation of symptoms initially thought to be linked to her known spinal pathology. Plain radiography, computer tomography, MRI and bone scan confirmed the presence of a recent sacral insufficiency fracture with anterior angulation. Conservative treatment resulted in improvement of symptoms after 6 months. Care should be taken when considering older patients for more aggressive treatment if they present with exacerbation of back pain and sciatica in the presence of a pre-existing spondylolisthesis. A suspicion of insufficiency fracture should be raised if risk factors exist and further investigations ordered in particular if plain radiography is normal. Lumbosacral fusion might be inappropriate in this setting.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Sacrum / diagnostic imaging
  • Sacrum / injuries*
  • Spinal Fractures / complications
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Spondylolisthesis / complications*