Treatment of Traumatic Thoracolumbar Spine Fractures: A Multicenter Prospective Randomized Study of Operative Versus Nonsurgical Treatment

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Study Design.

Multicenter prospective randomized trial.


To test the hypotheses that thoracolumbar AO Type A spine fractures without neurologic deficit, managed with short-segment posterior stabilization will show an improved radiographic outcome and at least the same functional outcome as compared with nonsurgically treated thoracolumbar fractures.

Summary of Background Data.

There are various opinions regarding the ideal management of thoracolumbar Type A spine fractures without neurologic deficit. Both operative and nonsurgical approaches are advocated.


Patients were randomized for operative or nonsurgical treatment. Data sampling involved demographics, fracture classifications, radiographic evaluation, and functional outcome.


Sixteen patients received nonsurgical therapy, and 18 received surgical treatment. Follow-up was completed for 32 (94%) of the patients after a mean of 4.3 years. At the end of follow-up, both local and regional kyphotic deformity was significantly less in the operatively treated group. All functional outcome scores (VAS Pain, VAS Spine Score, and RMDQ-24) showed significantly better results in the operative group. The percentage of patients returning to their original jobs was found to be significantly higher in the operative treated group.


Patients with a Type A3 thoracolumbar spine fracture without neurologic deficit should be treated by short-segment posterior stabilization.

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