Article Abstract

Delayed surgery in neurologically intact patients affected by thoraco-lumbar junction burst fractures: to reduce pain and improve quality of life

Authors: Lorenzo Nigro, Roberto Tarantino, Pasquale Donnarumma, Marika Rullo, Antonio Santoro, Roberto Delfini


Background: This is a retrospective study on 18 patients affected by thoraco-lumbar junction burst fractures (TLJBF) A3 or A4 at computed tomography (CT) scan who referred to our hospital. To assess the surgical results in terms of pain and quality of life in a series of neurologically intact patients affected by TLJBF who underwent surgery after 3–4 months from the injury. In literature there is controversy if pain could be an indication for surgery in TLJBF and series of patients conservatively managed with success have been reported.
Methods: A retrospective study on 18 patients is reported. Patients included in this series were neurologically intact and affected by a TLJBF A3 or A4 at CT scan, the height of the burst vertebral body was >50%, spinal canal invasion was <30% and kyphosis deformity <30 degrees. Pain and quality of life were evaluated using graphic rating scale (GRS) and EuroQol (EQ-5D) scores on admission, at the clinical follow-up and in post-surgical period.
Results: Comparing pre- and post-operative EQ-5D, the scores had a statistically significant decrease after the operation (P<0.001) [pre-surgery EQ-5D was 2.60 (SD =0.67), post-surgery EQ-5D was 1.37 (SD =0.41)]. Also analyzing the EQ5D-VAS scores, the t-test revealed that surgery (P<0.01) improved the quality of life with statistically significance (EQ5D-VAS pre =43.89, SD =12.43 and EQ5D-VAS post =73.33, SD =10.84). Analyzing pre- and post-surgical GRS scores, the pain decreased significantly with the maximum mean difference among the 2nd and 3rd month before surgery and at 12 months after surgery (respectively D =5.444, P<0.001 and D =5.167, P<0.001).
Conclusions: Conservatively managed patients affected by TLJBF require a strict clinical follow-up since pain sometimes is present in the following months and it affects the quality of life. Surgery should be considered for these cases.