Spinal fractures occur most commonly in the thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back) regions, and at the thoracolumbar junction. Fractures in these regions can occur due to injury from falls, motor vehicle accidents, violent acts and sports accidents, and also from the degeneration of bones due to old age and disease (osteoporosis and tumors). Thoracic spine fracture repair surgery is a treatment option to repair spinal fractures.
Surgery is indicated when conservative methods such as bracing fail to treat the condition and for the following:
- Bone fractures into multiple bone fragments
- Extensive loss of height of the vertebral bone
- Extreme forward bending at the injury site
- Injury or compression of surrounding nerves
The primary aim of surgery is to realign the fracture, stabilize the spine, and allow early movement. Your surgeon makes an incision on the chest or back, or a combination of the two to approach the fractured bone. Depending on the type of fracture, your surgeon will use internal fixation such as metal screws and rods to hold the fractured bones in place as the bones heal. If the fracture has resulted in multiple bone fragments that have compressed the adjacent spinal cord, your surgeon will carefully remove the fragments to decompress the spinal cord and replace the fractured vertebra with bone graft, allowing it to fuse with the adjacent vertebrae to form one single bone. Metal rods, plates, and screws hold the bone graft in place.
Following thoracic spine fracture surgery, you will be advised early mobilization and rehabilitation to lessen pain and restore mobility and function.
As with all surgeries, thoracic spine fracture repair may involve certain complications such as infection, bleeding, instrument failure, nonunion, blood clots, pneumonia, and pressure sores.