Authors of section


Anton Fürst

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

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Body fractures of thoracolumbar vertebrae


Fracture of the thoracolumbar spine may involve the body of the vertebra.

Vertebral fractures may be present with or without neurologic signs. Symptoms and prognosis of vertebral fractures depend on their location, the portion of the vertebra that sustains the trauma and the degree of compression of the spinal cord. Foals are more susceptible to vertebral fractures than adults.


  • Rearing and falling over backward (falls over jumps and obstacles)
  • Collisions and kicks (head on collisions)


Clinical signs of thoracolumbar fractures of the vetebral body

Clinical signs of thoracolumbar fractures of the vertebral body depend on:

  • Degree of bony disruption
  • Instability at the fracture site
  • Severity to the trauma to the spinal cord (rare)

Clinical signs can be:

  • Local pain, swelling, and stiffness



  • The growth plates and their closure times must be taken into consideration when interpreting the radiographic images in foals and young adult horses.
  • Frequently fissure lines and fractures are overlooked. Other imaging modalities are advised.
  • Fracture lines are often poorly visualized.

Radiographic examination:

  • Lateral radiographs
  • Ventrodorsal radiographs. In the thoracolumbar region they are usually unrewarding because of the massive musculature around the vertebrae.


Complete CT of the thoracolumbar region is possible in foals, small horses, ponies and donkeys.


  • Possible in foals, small horses, ponies, and donkeys.


  • A complete examination is possible in foals, small horses, ponies, and donkeys.