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Pediatric Thoracolumbar Spine Trauma

Alan H. Daniels Abstract

Thoracolumbar spine trauma is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in pediatric patients. Special attention to this population is necessary because several unique features of the growing pediatric spine separate these patients from adult patients. These injuries are frequently associated with high-energy trauma and concurrent thoracic or abdominal injuries that require coordinated multidisciplinary care. Thoracolumbar spine trauma in pediatric patients may lead to compression fractures, burst fractures, flexion-distraction injuries (ie, Chance fracture), fracture-dislocation injuries, apophyseal fractures/herniations, and spinous process and transverse process fractures. Depending on the nature of the injury and the patient’s level of skeletal maturity, thoracolumbar spinal injuries may have substantial ability to heal and remodel. Because the impact of thoracolumbar spinal injury on pediatric patients can be devastating, appropriate early diagnosis and management, as well as long-term follow-up, are imperative.

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