George Chance and Frank Holdsworth: Understanding Spinal Instability and the Evolution of Modern Spine Injury Classification Systems.

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The concept of spinal cord injury has existed since the earliest human civilizations, with the earliest documented cases dating back to 3000 BC under the Egyptian Empire. Howevr, an understanding of this field developed slowly, with real advancements not emerging until the 20th century. Technological advancements including the dawn of modern warfare producing mass human casualties instigated revolutionary advancement in the field of spine injury and its management. Spine surgeons today encounter "Chance" and "Holdsworth" fractures commonly; however, neurosurgical literature has not explored the history of these physicians and their groundbreaking contributions to the modern understanding of spine injury. A literature search using a historical database, Cochrane, Google Scholar, and PubMed was performed. As needed, hospitals and native universities were contacted to add their original contributions to the literature. George Quentin Chance, a Manchester-based British physician, is well known to many as an eminent radiologist of his time who described the eponymous fracture in 1948. Sir Frank Wild Holdsworth (1904-1969), a renowned British orthopedic surgeon who laid a solid foundation for rehabilitation of spinal injuries under the aegis of the Miners' Welfare Commission, described in detail the management of thoraco-lumbar junctional rotational fracture. The work of these 2 men laid the foundation for today's understanding of spinal instability, which is central to modern spine injury classification and management algorithms. This historical vignette will explore the academic legacies of Sir Frank Wild Holdsworth and George Quentin Chance, and the evolution of spinal instability and spine injury classification systems that ensued from their work.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)