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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1989 May;152(5):1029-32.

John Caffey award. MR imaging determination of the location of the normal conus medullaris throughout childhood.

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Magnetic Resonance Center, Oklahoma Medical Center, Oklahoma City 73126.


This retrospective study was designed to determine the location of the conus medullaris in normal children by reviewing a series of MR images of the lumbar spine. The study group consisted of 184 children ranging in age from newborn to 20 years who had a normal conus level as reported by the radiologist of record. The range of conus levels for the entire group of normal children was T12 to L3. The range for the 0-2-year-old group was T12 to L2-L3 with an average of L1-L2. The range of conus levels for the 19-20-year-old group was L1 to L2 with an average of L1-L2. We conclude that the conus medullaris does not ascend throughout childhood as stated by previous authors but attains the adult level sometime during the first few months of life. A conus level at L2-L3 or above should be considered normal at any age. A conus level at L3 is indeterminate, since it is possible for a normal or a tethered conus to be located at this level.

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