The AOSpine Classification of Thoraco-Lumbar Spine Injuries
Optimal treatment of injuries to the thoracolumbar spine is based on a detailed analysis of instability, as indicated by injury morphology and neurological status, together with significant modifying factors. A classification system helps to structure this analysis and should also provide guidance for treatment. Existing classification systems, such as the Magerl classification, are complex and do not include the neurological status, while the TLICS system has been accused of over-simplifying the influence of fracture morphology and instability. The AOSpine classification group has developed a new classification system, based mainly upon the Magerl and TLICS classifications, and with the aim of overcoming these drawbacks. This differentiates three main types of injury: Type A lesions are compression lesions to the anterior column; Type B lesions are distraction lesions of either the anterior or the posterior column; Type C lesions are translationally unstable lesions. Type A and B lesions are split into subgroups. The neurological damage is graded in 5 steps, ranging from a transient neurological deficit to complete spinal cord injury. Additional modifiers describe disorders which affect treatment strategy, such as osteoporosis or ankylosing diseases. Evaluations of intra- and inter-observer reliability have been very promising and encourage the introduction of this AOSpine classification of thoracolumbar injuries to the German speaking community.