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This article is the author's final published version in Global Spine Journal, Volume 14, Issue 1 suppl, February 2024, Pg. 49S - 55S.

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STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data.

OBJECTIVES: To compare decision-making between an expert panel and real-world spine surgeons in thoracolumbar burst fractures (TLBFs) without neurological deficits and analyze which factors influence surgical decision-making.

METHODS: This study is a sub-analysis of a prospective observational study in TL fractures. Twenty two experts were asked to review 183 CT scans and recommend treatment for each fracture. The expert recommendation was based on radiographic review.

RESULTS: Overall agreement between the expert panel and real-world surgeons regarding surgery was 63.2%. In 36.8% of cases, the expert panel recommended surgery that was not performed in real-world scenarios. Conversely, in cases where the expert panel recommended non-surgical treatment, only 38.6% received non-surgical treatment, while 61.4% underwent surgery. A separate analysis of A3 and A4 fractures revealed that expert panel recommended surgery for 30% of A3 injuries and 68% of A4 injuries. However, 61% of patients with both A3 and A4 fractures received surgery in the real world. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that a 1% increase in certainty of PLC injury led to a 4% increase in surgery recommendation among the expert panel, while a .2% increase in the likelihood of receiving surgery in the real world.

CONCLUSION: Surgical decision-making varied between the expert panel and real-world treating surgeons. Differences appear to be less evident in A3/A4 burst fractures making this specific group of fractures a real challenge independent of the level of expertise.

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