Background: Ankylosing spondylitis is a seronegative rheumatoid condition mainly affecting the axial skeleton. It leads to progressive deformity and stiffening of the spine with an increased risk of vertebral fractures and significant neurological deficits compared to the general population.
Aim: This study aimed to evaluate the outcomes of patients with ankylosing spondylitis who sustained acute vertebral fractures over a 10-year period.
Methods: A retrospective review of patient records and radiographic images was performed. Mechanism of injury, fracture type, timing of diagnosis, neurological deficit, management and complications were assessed.
Results: Twenty-four patients were included. Most (23) sustained low energy injuries. Five (20%) patients had a delayed diagnosis over 24 h after the time of injury. Twelve (50%) of patients had a neurological deficit at the time of admission and most did not recover. Eighteen (75%) patients underwent surgical stabilisation. There were 19 complications (in 15 patients) following surgery.
Conclusion: Patients with ankylosing spondylitis are at risk of spinal fracture and associated spinal cord injury after relatively minor trauma. Delayed diagnosis places the patient at risk of neurological compromise, and thus a high index of suspicion is needed when assessing this patient group.
Keywords: Ankylosing spondylitis; Outcomes; Spinal cord injury; Spinal fracture; Trauma.