Non-Surgical Treatment of Some Spine Fractures Effective

Elderly patients effectively treated in cervical collars or halothoracic braces

MONDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Most elderly patients with cervical spine fractures can be effectively treated non-operatively in cervical collars or halothoracic braces, according to a report in the Dec. 15 issue of Spine.

Florentius Koech, from the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues retrospectively examined outcomes in 42 patients aged 65 years or older with type II odontoid fractures who were treated non-surgically. Of these, 10 (24 percent) were treated in cervical collars alone and 32 (76 percent) received halothoracic braces.

After a median of two years, the researchers found that osseous fusion occurred in 50 percent of patients treated in collars and 37.5 percent of patients receiving braces, while fracture stability occurred in 90 percent and 100 percent of patients, respectively. Outcomes were similar in patients who achieved osseous union or stable fibrous union.

"The non-operative management of type II odontoid fractures in elderly patients results in fracture stability, by either osseous union or fibrous union in almost all patients," Koech and colleagues conclude. "Long-term clinical and functional outcomes seem to be more favorable when fractures have been treated with halothoracic bracing in preference to cervical collars."

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