The incidence and distribution of burst fractures

Emerg Radiol. 2006 Mar;12(3):124-9. doi: 10.1007/s0010140-005-0457-5. Epub 2005 Dec 23.


This study was conducted to assess occurrence and distribution of burst fractures as well as common accident mechanisms and the associated neurologic deficit. Using picture archiving and communications system, all emergency multidetector computed tomography studies over 34 months were retrieved and evaluated for burst fractures by two radiologists by consensus. Initial neurological findings were retrieved from patients' medical records. One hundred fifty-two patients (112 male) with a total of 169 burst fractures were found. In both genders, the incidence of burst fractures peaked at the thoracolumbar junction and between levels T5 and T8. In 10% of cases, more than one burst fracture was seen, thereof 53% on noncontiguous levels. Main accident mechanisms were falls, traffic, and sports. Neurological deficit was highest in patients with burst fractures of the cervical spine, independent of accident mechanism, and lowest in thoracolumbar junction fractures. Burst fractures occur frequently in high energy traumas and are most commonly associated with falling and traffic accidents. Multiple burst fractures occur in 10% of cases, half thereof on noncontiguous levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*