San Francisco Spine Surgeons

THORACIC
PROCEDURES SAN FRANCISCO

Thoracic Compression Fracture

Thoracic compression fractures constitute very common pathology that we see at St. Mary’s Spine Center. The majority of thoracic compression fractures are in the mid-thoracic spine and lower thoracic spine—for example, around T7 or T8 level in the mid-thoracic spine, right at the apex of the thoracic kyphosis (normal thoracic curvature, as looking from the side).

Also, down in the bottom, around T11 or T12, which is the lower part of the thoracic spine, we see those levels are fractured quite often as well. The thoracolumbar spine—which included T11, T12, L1, and L2 vertebrae—are at higher stress because of transition from the stiff thoracic spine, which is stiffened by the ribcage and sternum, and the very mobile lumbar spine.

A lot of stress is being concentrated in this transition zone; therefore, quite a few fractures are seen around T11 and T12. The way to treat those fractures depends on the severity of pain and the patient’s presentation. If it is found incidentally, meaning on a radiograph or MRI is done for a different reason, then usually the thoracic compression fracture can be ignored.

If the patient comes into the office with moderate pain that can be controlled with simple medications and a brace, then we tend to observe this patient for a number of weeks or months. If the pain is severe and the patient is admitted to the emergency room or presents to the office but pain cannot be controlled by oral analgesics or bracing, then we consider surgical intervention.

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to find out which surgical options for thoracic compression fracture such as Kyphoplasty or Vertebroplasty might be helpful.

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