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Transverse process fracture

Last revised by Dr Joachim Feger on 18 Dec 2021

Transverse process fractures are common sequelae of trauma, although they are considered minor and stable lumbar spine fractures. There is a strong association between transverse process fractures and other traumatic injuries.

Transverse process fracture most commonly occurs in the upper lumbar spine and are commonly multiple 2. The fracture line can extend into the transverse foramen, and in the cervical spine, there is a risk of complicating vertebral artery dissection.

Although a minor injury to the lumbar spine, transverse process fractures require major force:

CT is the modality of choice. Up to 60% of lumbar transverse process fractures identified on CT will be missed on plain radiographs 1.

In the lumbar region, consider anatomical variants such as:

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4: with Malgaigne fracture
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