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Evaluation of thoracic and lumbar spinal column injury

Amy Kaji, MD, PhD
Robert S Hockberger, MD, FACEP
Section Editor
Maria E Moreira, MD
Deputy Editors
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM
Susanna I Lee, MD, PhD


Although less common than cervical spinal column injuries, injuries of the thoracolumbar spinal column can be devastating and are commonly associated with major injuries of the chest and abdomen following high-energy trauma. The evaluation of thoracic and lumbar spinal column injuries in adults is reviewed here.

The evaluation and acute management of cervical spinal column injuries, spinal cord injuries, and spinal injuries in children are discussed separately. (See "Evaluation and acute management of cervical spinal column injuries in adults" and "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs" and "Acute traumatic spinal cord injury" and "Evaluation and acute management of cervical spine injuries in children and adolescents".)


The epidemiology of spinal column injuries and the anatomy of the spinal column are reviewed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs".)


Common mechanisms of injury, classification schemes, and important types of thoracolumbar (TL) spinal column injuries are discussed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Mechanisms of injury' and "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Thoracic and lumbar (TL) spinal column injury'.)


The acute management of spinal cord and spinal column injuries is discussed separately, as is the general management of the trauma patient. (See "Evaluation and acute management of cervical spinal column injuries in adults", section on 'Initial management' and "Acute traumatic spinal cord injury" and "Initial management of trauma in adults".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 23, 2017.
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