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Clin Radiol. 2013 Jan;68(1):e36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2012.09.004. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

MRI in patients with tuberculous spondylitis presenting as vertebra plana: a retrospective analysis and review of literature.

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Department of Radiology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, Tamilnadu, India.



To present the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of 10 patients with histopathologically proven tuberculous spondylitis (TS) presenting as vertebra plana (VP) on radiographs.


Radiographs of 451 adult TS patients were reviewed. In this consecutive series, there were 11 patients who presented as VP. MRI of 10 of these patients was available for review.


VP-like collapse of a single vertebral body of the dorsal spine with preserved endplates and disc was seen in all cases. Epidural, pre- and para-vertebral soft tissue was found in all patients. Epidural soft tissue presenting on sagittal images as a convexity of the posterior longitudinal ligament was also found in all the signal of which was different from the involved vertebra on axial images. All patients showed posterior element involvement, which was characterized by preserved cortical outline without expansion.


TS presenting with VP-like collapse of the bone is rare, accounting for 2.4% of the cases in the present series. MRI may show a collapsed vertebra with preserved endplates and disc. MRI findings that are suggestive of TS include: (1) signal intensity of the epidural soft-tissue mass on axial images, which is different from the vertebral body; (2) presence of a thin, T2-weighted hypointense capsule of the para-vertebral soft tissue; (3) posterior element involvement characterized by intact hypointense cortical outline without expansion; and (4) involvement of the costovertebral joint.

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