Delayed post-traumatic osteonecrosis of a vertebral body (Kummell's disease).

Published online: Feb 27 2002

Young WF, Brown D, Kendler A, Clements D.

Department of Neurosurgery, Temple University Hospital, 3401 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19140, USA.


Kummell's disease is a rare spinal disorder characterized as avascular necrosis of a vertebral body occurring in a delayed fashion after minor trauma. The disease derives its name from the German surgeon Hermann Kummell, who described a series of patients with the disorder in 1895. Kummell's disease is distinguished from typical osteoporotic compression fractures, by virtue of the fact that patients with Kummell's disease develop symptoms in delayed fashion. In addition, Kummell's disease exhibits different signal characteristics on magnetic resonance imaging when compared to osteoporotic compression fractures. In this review we discuss the pathophysiology, histopathology and treatment of this interesting disorder.