Transverse process fracture

Transverse process fractures are common sequelae of trauma, although they are considered a minor and stable lumbar spine fracture. There is a strong association between transverse process fractures and other traumatic injuries.


Transverse process fracture most commonly occurs in the upper lumbar spine and are commonly multiple . The fracture line can extend into the transverse foramen, and in the cervical spine there is a risk of complicating vertebral artery dissection.


Although a minor injury to the lumbar spine, transverse process fractures require major force:

Radiographic features

CT is the modality of choice. Up to 60% of lumbar transverse process fractures identified on CT will be missed on plain radiographs .

Differential diagnosis

In the lumbar region, consider anatomical variants such as:

  • hypoplastic 12th rib
  • unfused transverse process ossification center