Spine Trauma—What Are the Current Controversies?

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Abstract

Summary:

Although less common than other musculoskeletal injuries, spinal trauma may lead to significantly more disability and costs. During the last 2 decades there was substantial improvement in our understanding of the basic patterns of spinal fractures leading to more reliable classification and injury severity assessment systems but also rapid developments in surgical techniques. Despite these advancements, there remain unresolved issues concerning the management of these injuries. At this moment there is persistent controversy within the spinal trauma community, which can be grouped under 6 headings. First of all there is still no unanimity on the role and timing of medical and surgical interventions for patients with associated neurologic injury. The same is also true for type and timing of surgical intervention in multiply injured patients. In some common injury types like odontoid fractures and burst type (A3-A4) fractures in thoracolumbar spine, there is wide variation in practice between operative versus nonoperative management without clear reasons. Also, the role of different surgical approaches and techniques in certain injury types are not clarified yet. Methods of nonoperative management and care of elderly patients with concurrent complex disorders are also areas where there is no consensus. In this overview article the main reasons for these controversies are reviewed and the possible ways for resolutions are discussed.

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