Thoracic vertebrae fracture: Is it an indicator of abdominal injury?


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Purpose: Traumatic vertebral fracture accounts for 10–15% of trauma related admissions. While the correlation between lumbar vertebral fractures and abdominal injuries is well established, the relationship between thoracic vertebral fractures (TVF) and abdominal injuries is comparatively less well elucidated. Using a large national trauma database, we aimed to examine the incidence and severity of associated abdominal injuries in blunt trauma patients suffering from TVF. Methods: A retrospective cohort study using the Israeli National Trauma Registry was conducted. Patients with thoracic vertebrae spine fractures following blunt mechanisms of trauma between 1997 and 2018 were examined, comparing the incidence and severity of associated intraabdominal organs injuries with and without TVF. Demographics and outcomes between the two cohorts were compared. Results: From 362,924 blunt trauma patients, 4967 (1.37%) had isolated TVF. Mean age was 49.8 years and 61.9% were males. The most common mechanism of injury was fall following by MVC. The patients with TVF had significantly higher rates of increased ISS score (ISS > 16, 28.45% vs. 10.42%, p < 0.001) and higher mortality rate (3.5% vs. 2%, p < 0.0001). Patients with TVF had 2–3 times more intraabdominal organ injuries (p < 0.001). The most commonly injured organ was spleen (3.28%); followed by liver (2.64%) and kidney (1.47%). An analysis of non-isolated thoracic spine fractures showed same distribution in age, ISS, mechanisms, patterns of intra-abdominal injury, mortality rate and laparotomy rate. Conclusion: Clinicians should have an elevated suspicion for intra-abdominal injuries when a thoracic spine fracture is identified, which may necessitate further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-237
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Abdominal injury
  • Associated injuries
  • Blunt trauma
  • Fracture
  • Thoracic vertebra


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