Early Surgery for Thoracolumbar Spine Injuries Decreases Complications

Jeffrey G. Chipman, William E. Deuser, Greg J. Beilman, Gregory Jurkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background: The proper timing for surgical fracture repair is controversial. Early repair of long bone and cervical fractures reduces complications and is safe. Few studies exist to compare time to surgery with outcomes in thoracolumbar (TL) spine injuries. Methods: Patients with TL spine injuries were identified from the trauma registry and divided into two cohorts on the basis of Injury Severity Score (ISS). Cohorts were compared for infectious, respiratory, and total complications in patients who had early (<72 hours from injury) versus late (>72 hours from injury) surgical repair. A retrospective chart review was performed on High ISS patients (≥15) to identify differences in resuscitation needs and neurologic, respiratory, and infectious complications. Results: Early surgery, Low ISS patients were younger, received fewer anterior repairs, and had shorter hospitalizations. Early patients in the High ISS cohort had significantly fewer total complications and shorter hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay. Resuscitative requirements were similar for both surgery groups. More late surgery patients required ventilator support for noninfectious reasons. There was no difference in admission or postoperative neurologic status or the incidence of head injury. Conclusion: Early surgery in severely injured patients with thoracolumbar spine trauma was associated with fewer complications and shorter hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay, required less ventilator support for noninfectious reasons, and did not increase neurologic deficits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Early repair
  • Spine fracture
  • Surgical complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Early Surgery for Thoracolumbar Spine Injuries Decreases Complications'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this