Authors of section


Anton Fürst

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

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Dorsal spinous process fractures of thoracolumbar vertebrae

Fracture of the thoracolumbar spine may involve the dorsal spinous process 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

Clinical signs of thoracolumbar fractures of the dorsal spinous process 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

If the thoracolumbar dorsal spinous process fracture appears in combination with a thoracolumbar body fracture, mild ataxia to quadriplegia are also clinical signs.



  • Radiographs are an excellent tool for diagnosing fractures of the dorsal spinous processes

Radiographic examination:

  • Lateral radiographs


  • CT is not advised because of the need for general anesthesia


  • Not necessary for these fractures


  • Not necessary for these fractures