Z Orthop Unfall 2021; 159(04): 373-382
DOI: 10.1055/a-1144-3846

Traumatic Fractures of the Thoracic Spine

Narrative Literature Review Article in several languages: English | deutsch
Ulrich J. A. Spiegl
1   Department of Orthopaedics, Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Leipzig
Klaus John Schnake
2   Centre for Spinal Surgery, Schoen Hospitals, Fürth
Frank Hartmann
3   Centre for Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery, Ev. Stift St. Martin, Community Hospital Mittelrhein, Koblenz
Sebastian Katscher
4   Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Sana Hospital Leipziger Land, Borna
Marion Riehle
5   Orthopaedic and Trauma Centre, Alb Fils Hospitals, Göppingen
Max J. Scheyerer
6   Clinic and Outpatient Department for Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Cologne University Hospital
Gregor Schmeiser
7   Spine Centre, Schoen Hospital Hamburg Eilbek
Holger Siekmann
8   Trauma Surgery, Halle University Hospital
Georg Osterhoff
1   Department of Orthopaedics, Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital Leipzig
› Author Affiliations


The majority of traumatic vertebral fractures occur at the thoracolumbar junction and the lumbar spine and less commonly at the mid-thoracic and upper thoracic spine. In accordance, a high number of articles are dealing with thoracolumbar fractures focusing on the thoracolumbar junction. Nonetheless, the biomechanics of the thoracic spine differ from the thoracolumbar junction and the lumbar vertebral spine. The aim of this review is to screen the literature dealing with acute traumatic thoracic vertebral fractures in patients with normal bone quality. Thereby, the diagnostic of thoracic vertebral body fractures should include a CT examination. Ideally, the CT should include the whole thoracic cage particularly in patients suffering high energy accidents or in those with clinical suspicion of concomitant thoracic injuries. Generally, concomitant thoracic injuries are frequently seen in patients with thoracic spine fractures. Particularly sternal fractures cause an increase in fracture instability. In case of doubt, long segment stabilization is recommended in patients with unstable mid- und upper thoracic fractures, particularly in those patients with a high grade of instability.

Publication History

Article published online:
11 May 2020

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