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The time interval between the date of trauma and the diagnosis of vertebral column fractures hinders management and increases liability. We have examined the features and implications of this delay. 585 consecutive thoracolumbar fractures (2005-2016), were considered; 382 (65.30%) were males and 203 (34.70%) females. Mean age was 51 yr. Fall from a height (187; 31.97%), simple fall (147; 25.13%) and road accidents (111; 18.97%) were the most frequent causes of trauma. Physical exertion caused 8.38% (N=49). 142 patients (24.27%) were not diagnosed on the injury day (mean = 3.2 days). Delay was longer in females (mean =5.5 vs. 2.7 days) and shorter in falls from a height (mean = 2.3) or road accidents (2.8). Mean age of diagnosed on the injury day differed from those diagnosed in the first month (49.2 vs60.1). Plain X-ray signs were found in 7 misdiagnosed cases (46.6%). Delay was more frequent in low mineralization cases. Diagnostic delay of spine fractures is frequent. Some risk profiles can help to reduce it. Careful emergency X-ray examination is encouraged, as well as early magnetic resonance imaging in risk profiles.
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