Thoraco-lumbar fractures with blunt traumatic aortic injury in adult patients: correlations and management

Giorgio Santoro, Alessandro Ramieri, Vito Chiarella, Massimo Vigliotta, Maurizio Domenicucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Traumatic thoraco-lumbar spine fracture spine with a concomitant blunt aortic injury is uncommon but potentially a fatal association. Our aim was to clarify: morphology of spinal fractures related to vascular damages and vice versa, diagnostic procedures and decision-making process for the best treatment options for spine and vessels. Methods: We enrolled 42 cases culled from the literature and five personal ones, reviewing in detail by AO Spine Classification, Society of Vascular Surgery classification and Abbreviated Injury Scale for neurological evaluation. Results: Most fractures were at T11–L2 (29 cases; 62%) and type C (17; 70%). 17 (38%) were neurological. Most common vascular damage was the rupture (20; 43%), followed by intimal tear (13; 28%) and pseudoaneurysm (9; 19%). Vascular injury often required open or endovascular repair before spinal fixation. Distraction developed aortic intimal damage until rupture, while flexion–distraction lumbar artery pseudoaneurysm and rotation–torsion full laceration of collateral branches. CT and angio-CT were investigations of choice, followed by angiography. Neurological condition remained unchanged in 28 cases (90%). Overall mortality was 30%, but it was higher in AIS A. Conclusion: Relationship between thoraco-lumbar fracture and vascular lesion is rare, but potentially fatal. Comprehension of spinal biomechanics and vascular damages could be crucial to avoid poor results or decrease mortality. Frequently, traction of the aorta and its vessels is realized by C-dislocated fractures. CT and angio-CT are recommended. Spine stabilization should always follow the vascular repair. Early severe deficits worse the prognosis related to neurological recovery and survival. Graphical abstract: These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Apr 16 2018


  • Aortic injury
  • Blunt trauma
  • Spine stabilization
  • Thoraco-lumbar fracture
  • Vascular surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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