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Eur J Pediatr. 2001 Jan;160(1):10-20.

Cerebral spinal fluid flow, venous drainage and spinal cord compression in achondroplastic children: impact of magnetic resonance findings for decompressive surgery at the cranio-cervical junction.

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Department of Neuroradiology, University of Mainz, Germany.


In order to investigate the diagnostic properties of MRI of the brain and spine in achondroplastic children with regard to decompressive surgery, 25 patients were examined by conventional morphological and by "functional" imaging of CSF flow and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) of the veins and sinuses at the cranial base following a special protocol. The results were compared to those from age-matched controls and were correlated with each other and retrospectively with the neurological findings. Measurements of distances and angulations at the cranio-cervical junction (CCJ) from MR scans showed similar values to those from conventional radiographs and CTs and thus can be used without correction for spatial distorsion. Signs of cervical medullary compression, myelomalacia and intramedullary cyst formation were found in six, seven and three children respectively. These alterations correlated significantly with each other (P < 0.05). Semiquantitative evaluation of CSF flow demonstrated interruption of CSF pathways at the CCJ, which correlated with CCJ narrowing (P < 0.05). MRA showed a significant narrowing of the jugular foramina with a variable compensatory enlargement of the emissary veins and a significant reduction of the total outflow area (P < 0.01). There were no significant correlations between these MR changes and neurological deficits.


Due to this unexpectedly poor correlation between magnetic resonance and clinical findings in achondroplastic children, the present role of magnetic resonance in the clinical setting is limited to the demonstration of spinal cord compression in individual cases. In three of our patients with prominent neurological abnormalities, the severe changes demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging strongly supported the indication for surgical decompression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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