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Global Spine J. 2014 Dec;4(4):223-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1387179. Epub 2014 Aug 5.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine in children: spinal incidental findings in pediatric patients.

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Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia, United States.


Study Design Retrospective case series. Objective To determine the rate of spinal incidental findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine in the pediatric population. Methods We reviewed MRI imaging of the neuraxial spine in patients less than 18 years of age and documented abnormal spinal findings. We then reviewed the charts of these patients to determine the reason for ordering the study. Those who presented with pain were considered symptomatic. Those who had no presenting complaint were considered asymptomatic. The data were analyzed to break down the rate of spinal incidental findings in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine, respectively. Results Thirty-one of the 99 MRIs had positive findings, with the most common being disk protrusion (51.6%). Spinal incidental findings were most common in the lumbar spine (9.4%) versus the cervical spine (8%) or thoracic spine (4.7%). In this group, Schmorl nodes and disk protrusion were the two most common findings (37.5% each). Other spinal incidental findings included a vertebral hemangioma and a Tarlov cyst. In the thoracic spine, the only spinal incidental finding was a central disk protrusion without spinal cord or nerve root compression. Conclusion MRI is a useful modality in the pediatric patient with scoliosis or complaints of pain, but the provider should remain cognizant of the potential for spinal incidental findings.


Schmorl nodules; children; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); pediatric; spinal incidental findings

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