The use of computed tomography (CT) in demonstrating pure dislocations of the thoracolumbar facets and in predicting the prognosis of this injury was evaluated and compared with radiography retrospectively. The records of 29 patients with pure thoracolumbar bilateral facet dislocation who were admitted to the trauma unit over a 4-year period were reviewed. Twenty-two patients (76%) had a complete neurologic loss that remained complete following immediate surgical stabilization; five (17%) had an incomplete neurologic loss, and two (7%) were normal neurologically. Plain radiographs of the spine, including anteroposterior and lateral views, documented the level and type of fracture but failed to depict the full extent of bony and soft-tissue injuries. CT provided essential additional information, particularly regarding the status of the posterior elements of the vertebrae and the adequacy of the spinal canal. Pure thoracolumbar facet dislocations have a characteristic appearance on axial CT scans. Sagittal reformation through CT is essential in the evaluation of this type of spinal injury.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging