Traumatic lumbar spine fractures: Transverse process fractures dominate

Mona Shahriari, Mohammad S. Sadaghiani, Michael Spina, David M. Yousem, Bryan Franck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: With motor vehicle collisions (MVC) predominating as a source of trauma now, we sought to 1) reassess the types of traumatic lumbar spine fractures, 2) highlight the coincidence of transverse process fractures (TPF) with visceral injuries and 3) emphasize the difference in management between compression fracture (CF) and TPF. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the reports of lumbar spine and abdominopelvic CT scans from 2017 and 2018 to classify the types of spine fractures, their mechanism of injury, treatment and coexistence of abdominopelvic injuries. Results: 2.2% of patients had posttraumatic lumbar spine fractures (113/5229), including 58 patients (51.3%) with isolated TPF and 42 (37.2%) with isolated CF; 13 patients had mixed types. TPF accounted for 70% of all fractures (195/277) as opposed to 24% for CF (67/277). MVC was responsible for 60.3% (35/58) of TPF but falls accounted for 73.8% (31/42) of CF. The odds ratio of having isolated TPF from MVC was 4.1[1.8–9.0] versus CF after a fall from standing was 4.5[2.0–10.5]. Of patients with both visceral injuries and lumbar spine fractures, 75% (27/36) had isolated TPF (odds ratio of visceral injury with TPF was 4.4[1.8–10.7]). No TPF were treated with an intervention, however 77% (40/52) of CF were addressed surgically or with braces. Conclusion: TPF are the most common lumbar spine fractures and are often associated with MVC. There is a high association between TPF and abdominopelvic visceral injury requiring radiologists' attentiveness even though the TPF is not directly addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Imaging
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominopelvic visceral injury
  • Lumbar spine fracture
  • Spine
  • Transverse process fracture
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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