A burst fracture is a spinal injury where the vertebra breaks due to immediate and severe compression. Immediate trauma such as a car accident or a severe fall are the leading causes for burst fractures with pieces of the vertebra shattering into surrounding tissues and sometimes the spinal canal. This is different from a compression fracture in that the vertebra breaks in multiple directions.
A patient with a burst fracture requires immediate hospitalization and treatment to prevent or minimize spinal cord injury.
Immediate hospitalization is required, as such injuries may result in varying degrees of spinal cord injury with possible paralysis. Braces, a body cast, or surgery are the most common methods of treatment.
Patients with burst fractures can feel the effects long after their treatment. Kyphosis is often an outcome of a burst fracture injury.