Etiologies, incidence, and demographics of lumbar vertebral fractures in U.S. emergency departments

Jonathan Wakim, Thriaksh Rajan, Alex Beschloss, Ahmed Albayar, Ali Ozturk, Comron Saifi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Lumbar vertebral fractures are debilitating injuries widely associated with significant patient deformity, disability, pain, and potentially neurological deficit. This cross-sectional database study investigates the most frequent annual etiologies of lumbar vertebral fractures presented to emergency departments throughout the United States (U.S.) from 2010–2018. Methods: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database was used to identify all patients who visited participating emergency departments between 2010–2018 and were diagnosed with a lumbar spine fracture. Population estimates by age (18+) were obtained from annual U.S. Census estimates and used to calculate annual incidence rates of lumbar fractures per 100,000 people. Results: The annual incidence rate of total lumbar fractures in the U.S. increased from 14.6 to 22.5 per 100,000 people from 2010–2018 (54%). From 2010–2018, there were 382,914 [95% confidence interval (CI): 382,855–382,973] lumbar fractures in the U.S. This increased from 34,328 (95% CI: 34,277–34,379) in 2010 to 57,098 (95% CI: 57,044–57,152) in 2018 (66.3%). Men composed 40.2% and women made up 59.8% of patients. Mean patient age increased by 2.96 years from 65.5 (95% CI: 65.38–65.62) years in 2010 to 68.4 (95% CI: 68.32–68.48) years in 2018 (4.5%). From 2010–2018, floors, stairs/steps, and ladders were the most common etiologies of lumbar fractures. Estimated sum of floor-related fractures was 80,054 (95% CI: 79,986–80,122), stair/step-related fractures was 48,274 (95% CI: 48,209–48,339), and ladder-related fractures was 31,053 (95% CI: 30,987–31,119). The increase in these three etiologies accounted for 48% of the total increase of all-cause lumbar fractures between 2010 and 2018. Conclusions: The volume of lumbar vertebral fracture has increased over the last near decade (66.3%), and approximately half (48%) of these fractures can be attributed to accidents caused by flooring, stairs/steps, and ladder-related injuries. The increasing mean patient age, as well as accidents involving ladders, were found to be statistically correlated with the rise in total lumbar fracture volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Spine Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Lumbar fracture
  • National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)
  • etiology
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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