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Childs Nerv Syst. 2014 Mar;30(3):425-30. doi: 10.1007/s00381-013-2255-9. Epub 2013 Aug 18.

Torticollis as a first sign of posterior fossa and cervical spinal cord tumors in children.

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Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, University Children's Hospital of Cracow, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Kraków, Poland,



Torticollis, despite being well-known neurological manifestation, is often underestimated as a first symptom of the abnormalities of posterior cranial cavity and cervical spinal cord.


The purpose of this study is to analyze the occurrence of acquired torticollis in children as a herald sign of the tumors of the cervical spinal cord or of the posterior fossa.


Clinical records of 54 cases treated for the tumor of the cervical spinal cord or posterior fossa (including congenital ones) were retrospectively reviewed. The following data were calculated: the occurrence of the torticollis as a first sign of tumors, the duration time from the onset of the symptoms to diagnosis, the concurrence of other pathological symptoms, and the diminishing of symptoms of the torticollis following treatment.


In 12/54 (22.2 %) torticollis was first sign of central nervous system tumor and in all of them preceded other neurological symptoms. The time from the onset of torticollis to establishing diagnosis ranged from 2 to 52 weeks (9.6 weeks on average). Eleven of twelve patients were treated surgically--in 10 of them, torticollis disappeared in the postoperative course.


Torticollis may be a herald sign of the tumor of the cervical spinal cord or the posterior fossa. Those pathologies should be considered in the differential diagnosis of the torticollis, particularly if accompanied by other symptoms of the focal pathology of central nervous system. Awareness of this fact may shorten the time to establish the proper diagnosis. Torticollis necessitates exclusion of the posterior fossa and spinal cord tumor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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