Neurological L5 burst fracture: Posterior decompression and lordotic fixation as treatment of choice

Alessandro Ramieri, Maurizio Domenicucci, Paolo Cellocco, Antonino Raco, Giuseppe Costanzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We report our experience and literature review concerning surgical treatment of neurological burst fractures of the fifth lumbar vertebra. Materials and methods: Nineteen patients with L5 neurological burst fractures were consecutively enrolled; 6 patients had complete motor deficits, and 12 had sphincter dysfunction. We performed 18 posterior and one combined approaches. To avoid kyphosis, posterior internal fixation was achieved by positioning patients on the operating table with hips and knees fully extended. At the latest follow-up (mean 22 months, range 10-66), neurological recovery, canal remodeling and L4-S1 angle were evaluated. Results: Vertebral body replacement was difficult, which therefore resulted in an oblique position of the cage. Vertebral bodies still remained deformed, even though fixation allowed for an acceptable profile (22°, range 20-35). We observed three cases of paralysis, five complete, and three incomplete recoveries. In the remaining eight patients, sphincter impairment was the only finding. In 15 patients, pain was absent or occasional; in four individuals, it was continuous but not invalidating. Remodeling was visible by X-ray and/or CT, without significant secondary stenosis. Conclusions: The L5 burst fractures are rare and mostly due to axial compression. Cauda and/or nerve root injuries are absolute indications for surgery. If an anterior approach is technically difficult, laminectomy can allow for decompression, and it can be easily combined with transpedicular screw fixation. Posterior instrumented fusion, also performed with the aim to restore sagittal profile, when associated with an accurate spinal canal exploration and decompression, may be looked at as an optimal treatment for neurological L5 burst fractures.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Burst fracture
  • Internal fixation
  • Lordosis
  • Low lumbar spine
  • Neurologic deficit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurological L5 burst fracture: Posterior decompression and lordotic fixation as treatment of choice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this