Flexion teardrop fracture (x-ray)

Case contributed by Assoc Prof Craig Hacking


Diving injury in the surf. Neck pain.

Patient Data

Age: 20 years
Gender: Male

C4 vertebral body fracture with a large anteroinferior corner teardrop fragment displaced anteriorly with associated prevertebral soft tissue swelling. Straightening of the normal cervical lordosis with an acute angle kyphosis at the C4 level and some mild retropulsion. The C4/5 facet joints and interspinous space are widening considerably indicating posterior ligamentous injury.

This represents a 3-column unstable injury and needs spinal precautions (if not already) and CT and MRI assessment.

Case Discussion

Flexion teardrop fractures are associated with posterior element injury and hence a higher risk of cord injury than extension teardrop fractures. The spinal canal and cord need to be assessed with MRI as these injuries can be occult on X-ray and CT.

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Case information

rID: 66585
Published: 26th Feb 2019
Last edited: 9th Oct 2020
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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