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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X

Abstract

HORN, A; WORKMAN, MI; DIX-PEEK, S  and  DUNN, RN. Ligamentous integrity in Spinal Cord Injury without Radiographic Abnormality (SCIWORA): a case series. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2017, vol.16, n.2, pp.32-38. ISSN 2309-8309.  http://dx.doi.org/17159/2309-8309/2017/v16n2a3.

PURPOSE OF STUDY: Prolonged bracing following injury in patients with Spinal Cord Injury without Radiographic Abnormality (SCIWORA) remains controversial. Some authors claim that there is occult instability and a risk of recurrent injury whereas others propose that the spinal column will deform elastically, but will return to its baseline stability by elastic recoil. We aim to assess the presence of ligamentous injury on MRI and the incidence of recurrent instability following SCIWORA in order to determine the need for prolonged bracing. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed for a series of 12 patients with documented SCIWORA that presented to Red Cross Children's Hospital over the past 8 years. Details regarding mode of injury, age at presentation, neurological deficit at presentation, MRI findings and long-term prognosis were documented. RESULTS: There were nine males and three females. The median age was 4.35 years. All patients were victims of high energy motor vehicle accidents. In two patients there was disruption of the ligamentum flavum at the level of the injury. There were no episodes of recurrent instability or neurological compromise in those patients that had recovered. None of our patients had rigid bracing following the diagnosis of SCIWORA. CONCLUSION: Infrequently observed disruption of isolated stabilising structures in SCIWORA did not lead to early or delayed instability in our patients. We did not find evidence to support the practice of prolonged rigid bracing to prevent recurrence following SCIWORA. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic case study, level IV.

Keywords : SCIWORA; paediatric spinal cord injury; MRI findings in SCIWORA; bracing in SCIWORA; paediatric trauma.

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