Review of best classification systems for diagnosing and treating thoracolumbar spine trauma

Alecio Cristino Evangelista Santos Barcelos, Franz Jooji Onishi, Andrei Fernandes Joaquim, Ricardo Vieira Botelho
Surgical Neurology International 2021, 12: 242

Background: Improved thoracolumbar spine trauma classification (TLSTC) systems can better help diagnose and treat thoracolumbar spine trauma (TLT). Here, we identified the types of injury (rationale and description), instability criteria, and treatment guidelines of TLSTC.

Methods: We used the PubMed/MEDLINE database to assess TLSTC according to the following variables: injury morphology, injury mechanism, spinal instability criteria, neurological status, and treatment guidelines.

Results: Twenty-one studies, 18 case series and three reviews were included in the study. Treatment guidelines were proposed in 16 studies. The following three major parameters were identified in TLSTC studies: injury morphology (19/21 studies), posterior ligamentous complex (PLC) disruption alone as the main spinal instability criterion (15 studies), and neurological damage (12 studies). Most classification systems neglected the severity of vertebral body comminution.

Conclusion: We identified here the 3 main parameters for the evaluation of diagnosis and treatment of TLT: injury morphology, PLC disruption, and neurological damage. Based on our review, we may conclude that further clinical validation studies of TLSTC are warranted.

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