Nonoperative management of stable thoracolumbar burst fractures with early ambulation and bracing

Jeffrey B. Cantor, Nathan H. Lebwohl, Timothy Garvey, Frank J. Eismont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


Eighteen neurologically intact patients with burst fractures at the thoracolumbar junction were treated with early ambulation in a total contact orthosis. No attempt was made to reduce the associated deformity. Selection criteria excluded patients with posterior column disruption. Hospital stay averaged 10 days. Follow-up averaged 19 months. Mean kyphosis was 19 at time of injury and 20 at follow-up. At follow-up, 15 patients rated their pain as little or none. Seventeen patients had little or no restriction of activity. Follow-up computed tomography (CT) scans obtained in eight patients showed significant resorption of retropulsed bone. No deterioration of neurologic function developed in any patient. In patients with intact posterior elements and thoracolumbar burst fractures, early mobilization in a total contact TLSO can lead to satisfactory functional results. Prolonged bed rest was not required in this series. The authors attribute the good results of nonoperative management to the exclusion of patients with posterior column disruption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-976
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • burst fracture
  • nonoperative treatment
  • radiographic evaluation
  • thoracolumbar spine fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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