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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Management of thoracolumbar fractures with accompanying neurological injury.

The optimal surgical approach for spinal canal reconstruction of thoracolumbar fractures is controversial, and the relationship between spinal canal reconstruction and neurological recovery remains unclear. To address these issues, 22 consecutive cases of thoracolumbar fracture with accompanying neurological deficit were reviewed. Neurological status was graded at the time of admission, postoperatively, and at a mean of 15 months postinjury. By using preoperative and postoperative radiographs and computed tomographic scans, the degree of spinal canal compromise was quantified in the sagittal, coronal, and axial planes. All fractures were stabilized by posterior instrumentation and fusion, and in 10 injuries, retropulsed vertebral body fragments were further reduced by posterolateral decompression. Spinal canal dimensions, neurological function, and operative approach were compared by using nonparametric statistical analysis. The greater the initial spinal canal compromise, the more severe the neurological deficit (P = 0.04). With injuries involving L1 and above, this relationship increased (P = 0.003). The extent of spinal canal reconstruction failed to correlate with neurological recovery. Compared with spinal instrumentation alone, transpedicular decompression showed no benefit in terms of postoperative canal dimensions or neurological outcome. On the basis of this experience, transpedicular decompression offers no advantage over spinal instrumentation alone. The relationship between initial spinal canal encroachment and neurological deficit demonstrates that the degrees of bony and neurological injury directly reflect the kinetic energy transferred at the time of impact. The lack of correlation between the extent of spinal canal reconstruction and neurological recovery suggests that ongoing neural compression/distortion contributes little to the overall neurological injury.[1]


  1. Management of thoracolumbar fractures with accompanying neurological injury. Lemons, V.R., Wagner, F.C., Montesano, P.X. Neurosurgery (1992) [Pubmed]
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