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Evaluating Congenital Spine Deformities for Intraspinal Anomalies With Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Suh, Seung-Woo M.D.; Sarwark, John F. M.D.*†‡; Vora, Anand M.D.*‡; Huang, Bill K. B.S.

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: July-August 2001 - Volume 21 - Issue 4 - p 525-531

The incidence of intraspinal abnormalities associated with congenital spinal anomalies as detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is becoming better defined. In this study, 41 nonrandomized children with congenital spinal deformities (excluding myelomeningocele) who underwent complete MR evaluation were reviewed. Of the 41 congenital spinal deformities, 37 demonstrated congenital scoliosis, with failure of formation in 19, failure of segmentation in 4, and mixed defects in 14. The remaining four deformities were cases of congenital kyphosis. Thirteen patients with congenital spine anomalies were noted to have intraspinal abnormalities identified by MRI: tethered cord in 12 patients, syringomyelia in 3 patients, and diastematomyelia in 5 patients. Of the 12 patients with tethered cord, 2 patients had neurologic deficits. Urorectal anomaly was one of the most common associated findings (15%). Considering an incidence of intraspinal anomalies of 31% and as clinical manifestations may not be initially detectable, MRI is recommended in patients with congenital spinal deformity as part of the initial evaluation even in the absence of clinical findings.

Study conducted at Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Korea University Hospital, Seoul, Korea; and *Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Children's Memorial Hospital, †Northwestern University Medical School, and ‡Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. J. F. Sarwark, Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, 69, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL 60614, U.S.A. E-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.