Spinal Fractures

Definition of Spinal Fractures

Accidents, such as falls or car accidents, are the most frequent cause of spinal fractures (traumatic fractures). Osteoporosis or tumours may cause spontaneous fractures i.e pathological fractures.

Symptoms

Small movements and vibrations cause excruciating pain in the fractured spine regions.
Dull, long-lasting night pain and reduction of body height are signs and symptoms of pathological vertebral fractures.

Treatment

Severe traumatic vertebral fractures require fusion surgery to stabilize the spine and avoid or improve neurological damage. In osteoporotic fractures cement injection into the vertebral body (vertbroplasty, kyphoplasty) stabilizes the vertebral body and reduces pain immediately.

Post-operative course

Patients with severe fractures with neurological damage where complex surgery is indicated require a long rehabilitation process to regain function for every day demands. Neurological improvement may not always occur. Patients without marked neurological damage must stay in the hospital for a short period of time.

Results

Due to the stabilization of the spine the fractures are healed and pain is markably reduced. Unfortunately, paralysis may be permanent and cannot be influenced by surgery.
Revision surgery may be indicated in non-union of the fracture leading to implant failure or angular deformity.
In patients with osteoporotic spinal fractures treated with cement injection pain is diminished immediately. Further fractures though may occur if osteoporosis is not treated medically.