Spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormalities in children

Journal of Neurosurgery
Dachling Pang, J E Wilberger

Abstract

Spinal cord injury in children often occurs without evidence of fracture or dislocation. The mechanisms of neural damage in this syndrome of spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality (SCIWORA) include flexion, hyperextension, longitudinal distraction, and ischemia. Inherent elasticity of the vertebral column in infants and young children, among other age-related anatomical peculiarities, render the pediatric spine exceedingly vulnerable to deforming forces. The neurological lesions encountered in this syndrome include a high incidence of complete and severe partial cord lesions. Children younger than 8 years old sustain more serious neurological damage and suffer a larger number of upper cervical cord lesions than children aged over 8 years. Of the children with SCIWORA, 52% have delayed onset of paralysis up to 4 days after injury, and most of these children recall transient paresthesia, numbness, or subjective paralysis. Management includes tomography and flexion-extension films to rule out incipient instability, and immobilization with a cervical collar. Delayed dynamic films are essential to exclude late instability, which, if present, should be managed with Halo fixation or surgical fusion. The long-term prognosi...Continue Reading

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