What is Fracture Stabilization?
A spinal fracture refers to a break in any of the bones that make up the spine. It can occur due to trauma such as a traffic accident, fall from a significant height or weakening of the bones due to osteoporosis or a tumor. The thoracic or lumbar spine (upper and lower back) are the most common locations for spinal fractures.
Treatment of spinal fractures depends on the intensity and nature of the fracture which is determined through a thorough physical exam and imaging reports including X-rays and MRI scans. Stable fractures may respond well to non-operative treatment such as the use of braces which immobilize the spine allowing it to heal. Complex fractures that are unstable require fracture stabilization surgery.
Procedures for Fracture Stabilization
Stable fractures can be treated with 6-12 weeks of bracing which provides support and prevents dislocation allowing the spine to heal in proper alignment.
Fracture Stabilization surgery can be performed using the following methods:
- Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): This is a surgical technique which involves two steps: first, the broken bone segments are realigned correctly and then internal fixation devices such as rods, pins, screws, or plates are placed to hold the broken bones together.
- Pedicle Screw Fixation: This is a type of ORIF procedure where your surgeon implants metal rods and screws that pass through the pedicle bone of the vertebrae to stabilize the spine at the fracture site.
- Spinal Fusion: This procedure involves the fusion of the broken spinal bones (vertebral bones). This facilitates healing by merging the broken bones into a single, solid bone. A bone graft is often used to promote fusion.
Modern surgical techniques and instruments allow these procedures to be performed in a minimally invasive manner. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment or combination of treatments for your condition.