Seat belt syndrome with cauda equina syndrome: Two unique cases in the same motor vehicle accident

Muh Shi Lin, Hsin Ying Lin, Kuo Sheng Hung, Tien Jen Lin, Yao Chin Wang, Wen Ta Chiu, Woon Man Kung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


STUDY DESIGN.: Case report. OBJECTIVE.: To describe the surgical technique and outcome of 2 cases of lap-shoulder belt injury involving burst fracture at L5 and cauda equina syndrome (CES). SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: Lap-shoulder belts have largely replaced lap belts in the front seats of cars, and therefore the concept of seat belt injury needs re-evaluation. METHODS.: Two adults, the driver and front seat passenger in the same car involved in a collision, sustained lap-shoulder belt injury. One developed L5 Denis type A burst fracture and the other developed L5 Denis type B burst fracture. Both had CES. They were surgically managed by decompression of the spinal canal, which included removal of retropulsed fragments without impacting them. Both patients received short-segment transpedicle screws and rod system instrumentation without the fractured vertebra being included. RESULTS.: The percentage of preoperative degree of canal displacement of the retropulsed fragment was 60% in one patient and 55% in the other based on computed tomography. The mechanism of injury in both patients might be axial loading. After surgical intervention, the CES including lower leg weakness/numbness and bladder/bowel dysfunction clinically improved in both patients. CONCLUSION.: Two adults in the same car involved in a collision were wearing lap-shoulder belts, and 1 had Denis type A burst fracture at L5 and the other had Denis type B burst fracture at L5. Both developed CES after the accident. Both patients had a good clinical outcome after surgical treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2013


  • burst fracture
  • cauda equina syndrome
  • retropulsed canal fragment
  • seat belt syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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