P. M. Parizel, T. van der Zijden, S. Gaudino, M. Spaepen, M. H. J. Voormolen, C. Venstermans, F. De Belder, L. van den Hauwe, J. Van Goethem

March 2010, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 8 - 17 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-1123-5

First Online: 02 September 2009

Traumatic injuries of the spine and spinal cord are common and potentially devastating lesions. We present a comprehensive overview of the classification of vertebral fractures, based on morphology (e.g., wedge, (bi)concave, or crush fractures) or on the mechanism of injury (flexion-compression, axial compression, flexion-distraction, or rotational fracture-dislocation lesions). The merits and limitations of different imaging techniques are discussed, including plain X-ray films, multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the detection. There is growing evidence that state-of-the-art imaging techniques provide answers to some of the key questions in the management of patients with spine and spinal cord trauma: is the fracture stable or unstable? Is the fracture recent or old? Is the fracture benign or malignant? In summary, we show that high-quality radiological investigations are essential in the diagnosis and management of patients with spinal trauma.

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