Classification schemes for thoracolumbar fractures attempt to categorize them as either stable or unstable. Stable fractures heal with conservative treatment strategies such as bracing, while unstable fractures require operative internal fixation. Until recently, most classification schemes recognized the importance of the pattern and location of bony disruption in segregating stable and unstable fractures. Recently, the integrity of the posterior ligamentous complex was found to influence the degree of the stability of thoracolumbar fractures. Disruption of the intervertebral disc and ligaments increases spinal instability. Unlike bone, it is thought that these ligaments do not have the capacity to heal. However, this notion is not founded by substantial evidence. It is, hence, important to determine the extent of ligamentous healing in the spine as this will influence directing therapy towards not only bony fusion, but also ligamentous union.
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