Wedge fracture

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Wedge fractures (also known as compression fractures) are hyperflexion injuries to the vertebral body resulting from axial loading. Most commonly affecting the anterior aspect of the vertebral body, wedge fractures are considered a single-column (i.e. stable) fracture. 

Less commonly wedge fractures refer to a subtype of tibial plateau fractures. This article addresses vertebral wedge fractures. 

Most common type (~50%) of thoracolumbar spine fractures 4

Typically, these fractures are insufficiency fractures secondary to ostoporosis, although some are pathological secondary to a focal bone lesion. A small proportion is due to trauma in patients with normal underlying bone 2.

Radiographs, CT, and MRI may show cortical disruption with impaction of the anterosuperior endplate. The anteroinferior endplate and posterior vertebral body remain unaffected. This results in the characteristic "wedged" appearance 3,4

  • burst fracture: fracture of the anterior and posterior vertebral body (i.e. two-column injury) 4
  • care should be taken to assess for posterior ligamentous injury, indicative of potential instability
Spinal trauma

Article information

rID: 35522
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Compression fracture
  • Wedge fractures
  • Vertebral body wedge fractures
  • Wedge compression fractures
  • Vertebral body wedge fracture
  • Wedge compression fracture

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewers/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: acute vs old
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • LAT
    Case 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4: multiple fractures
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 5: with a spinal synovial cyst
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.