Functional outcomes of Denis zone III sacral fractures treated nonoperatively

J Orthop Trauma. 2010 May;24(5):297-302. doi: 10.1097/BOT.0b013e3181ccb645.


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to report the outcomes of nonoperative treatment in patients with Denis Zone III sacral fractures at a minimum of 2 years follow up.

Design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected data of a consecutive series of patients.

Setting: Level I trauma center.

Patients: A consecutive series of 15 patients (15-47 years old) with Denis Zone III sacral fractures treated nonoperatively from 1997 to 2002 was studied. Eleven patients were available for follow-up questionnaires; nine participated in a physical examination. Time to final follow up averaged 43 months (range, 25-67 months).

Intervention: Demographic data; mechanism of injury; injury-specific assessment of bowel, bladder, and sexual function; physical examination; and fracture pattern were collected from a prospectively collected database.

Main outcome measurements: At a minimum of 2-year follow up, evaluation of SF-36 scores, Roland Morris back pain questionnaire, and Gibbons classification was conducted.

Results: All fractures healed. Six patients had a postinjury increase in kyphosis (range, 1 degrees -17 degrees ) without a correlation to final outcomes. Mean SF-36 scores were all uniformly lower than the normalized general population and were biased by frequent associated injuries. Final Roland-Morris scores averaged 3.3 +/- 3.3. Gibbons classification scores initially averaged 2 +/- 1.2 and decreased to 1.5 +/- 0.8, each within their standard deviations. Eight had residual bowel, bladder, and/or sexual dysfunction.

Conclusions: Nonoperative treatment of Denis Zone III sacral fractures yields consistent healing. Despite improvement in initial neurologic deficits, residual complaints were common.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Back Pain
  • Bed Rest*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Healing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sacrum / injuries*
  • Spinal Fractures / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trauma Centers
  • Young Adult