Objective: To determine the mechanisms of injury and clinical findings significantly associated with traumatic thoracic spine (T-spine) fractures. Methods: This was a case-control study in a tertiary adult trauma centre. Cases were patients admitted with traumatic T-spine fractures between January 1999 and August 2007, inclusive. Each case had two controls matched for gender, age and injury severity. Data were collected from patient medical records and the trauma service database. Factors potentially associated with T-spine fracture were derived from the literature, expert consensus and univariate analysis. Multivariate logistic regression was employed to determine factors significantly associated with T-spine fracture. Results: Two hundred and sixty one cases and 512 controls were enrolled. Univariate analysis showed the mechanisms of fall from a height ≥2 meters (m) and motorbike accident ≥60 kilometers per hour were significantly associated with T-spine fracture (p<0.001). The clinical findings of thoracic back pain, tenderness, intoxication, step deformity and abnormal neurological symptoms were also significantly associated with T-spine fracture (p<0.05). Multivariate analysis indicated that falls from a height of ≥2 m and thoracic back pain were significantly and positively associated with T-spine fracture (p<0.001). However, intoxication was negatively associated with T-spine fracture. Conclusions: Patients with T-spine injury are significantly more likely to have fallen from a height ≥2 m or to have had thoracic back pain but less likely to be intoxicated. These findings should be validated prospectively prior to development of clinical guidelines for the identification of patients who may benefit from CT screening of the thoracic spine.
- Case control study
- Hospital emergency service