Thoracolumbar “burst” fractures treated conservatively: A long-term follow-up

James Neil Weinstein*, Patrick Collalto, Thomas R. Lehmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

232 Scopus citations


This report addresses the long-term results of nonoperative treatment for fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Forty-two patients meeting specified inclusion criteria were contacted and completed questionnaires. In all cases, nonoperative treatment was the only treatment received. The average time from injury to follow-up was 20.2 years (range, 11 to 55 years). The average age at follow-up was 43 years (range, 28 to 70 years). There were 31 men and 11 women in this series. Seventy-one percent of the Injuries were the result of motor vehicle accidents. The most common sites of injury were T12-L2, which accounted for 64% of the injuries. Seventy-eight percent of the patients had no neurologic deficits at the time of injury. At follow-up, the average back pain score was 3.5, with 0 being no pain at ail and 10 being very severe pain. No patient demonstrated a decrease in their neurologic status at follow-up, and no patient required narcotic medication for pain control. Eighty-eight percent of patients were able to work at their usual level of activity. Follow-up radiographs revealed an average kyphosis angle of 26.4° in flexion and 16.8° in extension. The degree of kyphosis did not correlate with pain or function at follow-up. Based on this review, nonoperative treatment of thoracolumbar burst fractures remains as a viable alternative in patients without neurologic deficit and can lead to acceptable long-term results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988


  • Burst fracture
  • Lute results
  • Nonoperative treatment
  • Thoracolumbar junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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