The literature is voluminous on the nonoperative care of fracture of the spine but rather sparse on the operative treatment. A long time follow-up study of both types of treatment should help to clarify the indications for each. The indications usually have been based, in the early cases, on the amount of wedging of the vertebral bodies as evidenced by roentgenograms and, in the late cases, on the persistence of pain and disability. Soft tissue pathology has received little consideration. Equally important is the physician's obligation to shorten hospitalization and rehabilitate the patient as quickly as possible in order to reduce the period of nonproductivity. Disability for work threatens the economic stability of the patient and is a financial burden to the insurance company.
A study was made of all the cases of fractured dorsal and lumbar vertebrae at the New York Orthopaedic Hospital and Dispensary from 1920 to 1948,