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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Global Spine Journal

Volume 7, Issue 4, June 2017, Pages 309-316.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1177/2192568217699209. Copyright © Rajasekaran et al.


Study Design: Prospective survey-based study. Objectives: The AO Spine thoracolumbar injury classification has been shown to have good reproducibility among clinicians. However, the influence of spine surgeons’ clinical experience on fracture classification, stability assessment, and decision on management based on this classification has not been studied. Furthermore, the usefulness of varying imaging modalities including radiographs, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the decision process was also studied. Methods: Forty-one spine surgeons from different regions, acquainted with the AOSpine classification system, were provided with 30 thoracolumbar fractures in a 3-step assessment: first radiographs, followed by CT and MRI. Surgeons classified the fracture, evaluated stability, chose management, and identified reasons for any changes. The surgeons were divided into 2 groups based on years of clinical experience as <10 years (n = 12) and >10 years (n = 29). Results: There were no significant differences between the 2 groups in correctly classifying A1, B2, and C type fractures. Surgeons with less experience hadmore correct diagnosis in classifyingA3 (47.2% vs 38.5%in step 1, 73.6% vs 60.3% in step 2 and 77.8% vs 65.5% in step 3), A4 (16.7% vs 24.1% in step 1, 72.9% vs 57.8% in step 2 and 70.8% vs 56.0%in step3) and B1 injuries (31.9% vs 20.7% in step 1, 41.7% vs 36.8% in step 2 and 38.9% vs 33.9% in step 3). In the assessment of fracture stability and decision on treatment, the less and more experienced surgeons performed equally. The selection of a particular treatment plan varied in all subtypes except in A1 and C type injuries. Conclusion: Surgeons’ experience did not significantly affect overall fracture classification, evaluating stability and planning the treatment. Surgeons with less experience had a higher percentage of correct classification in A3 and A4 injuries. Despite variations between them in classification, the assessment of overall stability and management decisions were similar between the 2 groups. © The Author(s) 2017.

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