Thoracolumbar Spine Fractures in the Geriatric Fracture Center: Early Ambulation Leads to Good Results on Short Term and Is a Successful and Safe Alternative Compared to Immobilization in Elderly Patients With Two-Column Vertebral Fractures

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Abstract

Introduction:

Thoracolumbar spine fractures are common osteoporotic fractures among elderly patients. Several studies suggest that these fractures can be treated successfully with a nonoperative management. The aim of this study is to evaluate the conservative treatment of elderly patients with a vertebral fracture.

Methods:

This study is a retrospective cohort study, which included all patients with an age of 65 years and older, who were diagnosed with a vertebral fracture and where therefore admitted to the Geriatric Fracture Center over a period of 2 years. Primary outcome was the level of functioning 6 weeks and 3 months after admission.

Results:

We included 106 patients with 143 vertebral fractures, of which 61 patients were evaluated after 3 months. In our population, 53% of the patients had a fracture involving both middle and anterior columns. The majority of the patients functioned sufficiently 6 weeks and 3 months after admission. Analysis showed that age <80 years is an independent predictor of a sufficient level of functioning after 6 weeks.

Discussion:

The nonoperative treatment of elderly patients with a vertebral fracture leads to a sufficient level of functioning 6 weeks and 3 months after admission. In our population, only age <80 years is an independent predictor for a sufficient level of functioning 6 weeks after admission. The level of functioning at 6 weeks predicts the level of functioning 3 months after admission. On comparison, the level of functioning after early ambulation is equal to the level of functioning after immobilization. Where immobilization may lead to complications, early ambulation was not associated with new complications or neurological damage. Based on these advantages, the treatment of elderly patients with a fracture involving both middle and anterior columns may be altered from immobilization to mobilization in the future.

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