Efe Levent Aras, Cody Bunger, Ebbe Stender Hansen, Rikke Søgaard

April 2017, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1438 - 1446 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-016-4806-8

First Online: 21 October 2016

Background and purpose

There is a lack of evidence on the broad health-care costs of treating spine trauma patients without neurological deficits conservatively. The aim of the present study was to estimate the primary and secondary health-care sector costs associated with conservative treatment of spine fractures as well as their determinants.


Patients were identified between 1999 and 2008 in the hospital’s administrative system based on relevant diagnostic codes. Inclusion criteria were: (1) spine fractures (C1–L5); (2) age >18; and (3) conservative treatment. Exclusion criteria were: (1) neurological involvement and (2) fractures secondary to osteoporosis/malignancy. Health-care utilization and costs were retrieved from national administrative databases covering the entire health-care sector.


201 cervical, 150 thoracic, and 140 lumbar fracture patients were included in the study. The total health cost was estimated at €18,919 (16,199; 21,756), €8571 (6062; 11,733), €5526 (3473; 7465) for cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions, respectively. Hospital admissions accounted for the vast majority of costs while primary health care accounted for less than 3 % and prescription medication for less than 2 %. The determinants of costs included fracture site (p < 0.001) and concomitant lower limb injuries (p = 0.009).


Spinal fractures, even mild ones, appear to incur substantial health-care utilization and costs. Health-care costs in conjunction with cervical fractures are more than two-fold of those affiliated with thoracic and lumbar fractures. Among the concomitant injuries, lower limb injuries exert a substantial influence over health-care costs.

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