Flexion teardrop fracture

Case contributed by Sarah AlJahdali


Trauma, motor vehicle accident

Patient Data

Age: 25 years
Gender: Male

There is a comminuted fracture involving the anterior inferior aspect of the C5 vertebral body with mild anterior displacement of the fracture fragments and mild vertebral body loss of height anteriorly from inferior endplate compression. This results in a focal mild cervical kyphosis. There is no fracture extension into the posterior elements.

Mild narrowing of the C5-C6 intervertebral disc space. There is widening of the C5-C6 interspinous distance posteriorly with the fat stranding and low-attenuation change in the soft tissues suggestive of ligamentous injury. Subtle distraction of the facet joints.

There is no obvious epidural hematoma identified within the limits of this CT resolution. No significant central canal stenosis.

There is minimal superior endplate depression of T1-T5 vertebral bodies. An undisplaced fracture of the anterior cortex of the manubrium is also noted.

Case Discussion

Flexion teardrop fractures indicate extensive underlying ligamentous injury and are unstable. They are caused by high energy axial compressive force over a flexed cervical spine. Associated spinal cord injury is common.

Case co-author: Rehana Jaffer, MD, FRCPC

(case courtesy of Dr Mathieu Boily)

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