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J Biomed Res. 2018 Jan 18;32(1):68-76. doi: 10.7555/JBR.32.20170055.

Cervical spine fractures in osteopetrosis: a case report and review of the literature.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California-Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.


While management of appendicular fractures has been well described in the setting of osteopetrosis, there is limited information on managing fractures of the axial spine. Here we present an osteopetrotic patient with multiple traumatic multiple, comminuted, unstable cervical spinal fractures managed with non-operative stabilization, and provide a review of the pathophysiology, genetic characteristics, and special considerations that must be explored when determining operative versus non-operative management of spinal injury in osteopetrosis. A PubMed query was performed for English articles in the literature published up to June 2016, and used the following search terms alone and in combination: "osteopetrosis", "spine", "fractures", "osteoclasts", and "operative management". Within four months after initial injury, treatment with halo vest allowed for adequate healing. The patient was asymptomatic with cervical spine dynamic radiographs confirming stability at four months. On four-year follow up examination, the patient remained without neck pain, and CT scan demonstrated partially sclerotic fracture lines with appropriate anatomical alignment. In conclusion, external halo stabilization may be an effective option for treatment of multiple unstable acute traumatic cervical spine fractures in patients with osteopetrosis. Given the challenge of surgical stabilization in osteopetrosis, further research is necessary to elucidate the optimal form of treatment in this select patient population.

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