Cervical spine injury in children: a case report and literature review
Tahir Nebhani, Hicham Bakkali, Lahcen Belyamani
The Pan African Medical Journal. 2015;20:261. doi:10.11604/pamj.2015.20.261.6071

Create an account  |  Sign in
African Case Studies Case studies in Public health
"Better health through knowledge sharing and information dissemination "

Case report

Cervical spine injury in children: a case report and literature review

Cite this: The Pan African Medical Journal. 2015;20:261. doi:10.11604/pamj.2015.20.261.6071

Received: 03/01/2015 - Accepted: 24/02/2015 - Published: 18/03/2015

Key words: cervical, spine, injury, children

© Tahir Nebhani et al. The Pan African Medical Journal - ISSN 1937-8688. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Available online at: http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/20/261/full

Corresponding author: Tahir Nebhani, Emergency Department of Military Hospital, Rabat, Morocco (nebhanit@gmail.com)


Cervical spine injury in children: a case report and literature review

 

Tahir Nebhani1,&, Hicham Bakkali1, Lahcen Belyamani1

 

1Emergency Department of Military Hospital, Rabat, Morocco

 

 

&Corresponding author
Tahir Nebhani, Emergency Department of Military Hospital, Rabat, Morocco

 

 

Abstract

Traumatic injuries of the cervical spine are less common in children than in adults. But may be associated with significant disability and mortality. Pediatric victims of blunt trauma have mechanisms of injury, developmental and anatomic characteristics different than the adults. The purpose of this observation is to highlight the differences between the adult and pediatric cervical spine. We report below the case of spinal cord cut occurs to a very young girl after a motor vehicle accident.

 

 

Introduction

Cervical spine injury is uncommon in children than in adults, with 1-2 percent of pediatric trauma victims requiring hospitalization [1]. However cord injury may have devastating consequences. In fact, I have, through the ensuing of this case, determine the epidemiology, risk factors, mechanisms, levels, types of injury and comorbid factors associated with these potentially devastating injuries.

 

 

Patient and observation

We report a case of a 3-year-girl, victim of a car accident. Rear passenger seat on the arms of his mother. One hour later she was admitted in a pediatric emergencies department. Her neck was immobilized by a collar .She was conscious, limited neck movement with central pain and she presented a full tetraplegia with loss of feeling and movement from the chest down, including both arms and both legs. There was an unexplained hypotension with heart rate irregularity, breathing difficulties. The rest of the clinical examination was without particularity. The patient was correctly immobilized in neutral position. She was intubated and ventilated. A mean arterial pressure of 85mmHg was obtained by use of dopamine in electric syringe pump at a dose of 7 ug / kg / min. Hematological investigations (include RBC count, hemoglobin concentration and hematocrit) were normal. The magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a complete cervical medullary section at C6-C7 level (Figure 1). The patient did not recive methylprednisolne, and neither spinal traction nor surgical decompression had been achieved. The Evolution was fatal after 10 days of hospitalization in the pediatric intensive care unit with nosocomial pulmonary infection complicated by a refractory septic shock.

 

 

Discussion

Cervical spine (C-spine) injuries occur infrequently in children but may be associated with significant disability and mortality [2]. It is seen primarily in those who sustain significant, severe blunt trauma, occurring in 1 to 2 percent of such cases [3]. Approximately 72% of spinal injuries in children under 8 years old occur in the cervical spine [4]. Mechanisms of injury are age related, with younger children sustaining C-spine injuries as a result of motor vehicle-related trauma and adults commonly injured during sporting activities and falls [5]. Spinal column injury may occur in abnormal application of flexion, extension, rotation, compression, distraction and shear forces. Each of these mechanisms causes specific patterns of damage to the bones and ligaments of the spine, wich to some degree translate to patterns of cord damage [6, 7]. C-spine injuries in children generally involve the upper C-spine. The younger the child, the more likely an upper cervical spine injury will occur [8]. But complete lesions of the cord are associated more frequently with lower C-spine injuries [9]. Contrary to what has been reported in the literature, our patient had a trauma of the lower cervical spine. The fact may be explained by unique biomechanics and anatomy of the pediatric cervical spine. They have relatively larger heads than bodies, the position of the cervical spine fulcrum progresses caudally from C2-3 at birth to C5-6 at eight years of age, weaker cervical musculature and increased laxity of the ligaments, immature vertebral joints and horizontally inclined articulating facets that facilitate sliding of the upper cervical spine [10, 11].

 

Symptoms vary depending on the location of the injury. Spinal cord injury causes weakness and loss of feeling at, and below the injury. How severe symptoms are depends on whether the entire cord is severely injured such as our case. MRI scanning is usually indicated when identification of soft tissue injury is required or if there is a suspicion of spinal cord injury without radiological abnormality [12]. For this reason, we have realized an emergency MRI to the strong suspicion of c-spine cord cut and to avoid the irradiation. Indications for surgery include nonreducible deformities, unstable injuries requiring stabilization, progressive deformity, and decompression of neural structures [13]. Because of the damage caused in the c-spine cord and her hemodynamic instability the patient did not get the surgery. Predictors of mortality include younger age, motor vehicle-related mechanism association with closed head injuries and the highest injury severity score (ISS) [9]. Our patient had two risk factors that explain his death in addition to infectious complications occurred during his stay in intensive care.

 

 

Conclusion

Road accidents are a public health problem in Morocco. It's sad fact that injury is the number one cause of death and disability among children. Anatomical peculiarities as well as differences in the mecanisms explain the preferential localization of injuries of the cervical spine in the child versus adult. The prevention of this scourge involves taking security measures and compliance with the code of the road.

 

 

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

 

 

Authors’ contributions

All the authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

 

 

Figure

Figure 1: medullary full section on a sagittal section of MRI of the cervical spine

 

 

References

  1. Dietrich AM, Ginn-Pease ME, Bartowski HM, King DR. Pediatric cervical spine fractures: predominantly subtle presentation. J Pediatr Surg. 1991 Aug;26(8):995-9. PubMed | Google Scholar

  2. Chen LS, Blaw ME. Acute central cervical cord syndrome caused by minor trauma. J Pediatr. 1986 Jan;108(1):96-7. PubMed | Google Scholar

  3. Baker C, Kadish H, Schunk JE. Evaluation of pediatric cervical spine injuries. Am J Emerg Med. 1999 May;17(3):230-4. PubMed | Google Scholar

  4. Hall DE, Boydston W. Pediatric neck injuries. Pediatr Rev. 1999 Jan;20(1):13-9. PubMed | Google Scholar

  5. Eleraky MA, Theodore N, Adams M, Rekate HL, Sonntag KHV. Pediatric cervical spine injuries: report of 102 cases and review of the literature. J Neurosurg. 2000; 92(suppl 1):12-17. PubMed | Google Scholar

  6. Hackney DB, Asato R, Joseph PM, et al. Hemorrhage and edema in acute spinal cord compression: demonstrated by MR imaging. Radiology. 1986 Nov;161(2):387-90. PubMed | Google Scholar

  7. Yamashita Y, Takahashi M, Matsuno Y, et al. Acute spinal cord injury: magnetic resonance imaging correlated with myelopathy. Br J Radiol. 1991 Mar;64(759):201-9. PubMed | Google Scholar

  8. Patel JC, Tepas JJ 3rd, Mollitt DL, Pieper P. Pediatric cervical spine injuries: defining the disease. J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Feb;36(2):373-6. PubMed | Google Scholar

  9. Brown RL, Brunn MA, Garcia VF. Cervical spine injuries in children: a review of 103 patients treated consecutively at a level 1 pediatric trauma center. J Pediatr Surg. 2001 Aug;36(8):1107-14. PubMed | Google Scholar

  10. McGrory BJ, Klassen RA, Chao EY, Staeheli JW, Weaver AL. Acute fractures and dislocations of the cervical spine in children and adolescents. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1993 Jul;75(7):988-95. PubMed | Google Scholar

  11. Roche C, Carty H. Spinal trauma in children. Pediatr Radiol. 2001 Oct;31(10):677-700. PubMed | Google Scholar

  12. Pang D. Spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality in children, 2 decades later. Neurosurgery. 2004;55(6):1325. PubMed | Google Scholar

  13. Dickman CA, Rekate HL, Sonntag VK, et al: Pediatric spinal trauma: vertebral column and spinal cord injuries in children. Pediatr Neurosci. 1989;15(5):237-55. Google Scholar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Pan African Medical Journal articles are archived on Pubmed Central. Access PAMJ archives on PMC here

Volume 27 (May - August 2017)

Article tools

PDF in process
Log in to comment
Contact the corresponding author
Download to Citation Manager
EndNote
Reference Manager
Zotero
BibTex
ProCite


Rate this article

Altmetric

Popular articles in Case report

PAMJ is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics

PAMJ is published in collaboration with the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET)
Currently tracked by: DOAJ, AIM, Google Scholar, AJOL, EBSCO, Scopus, Embase, IC, HINARI, Global Health, PubMed Central, PubMed/Medline, Ulrichsweb, More to come . Member of COPE.

ISSN: 1937-8688. © 2017 - Pan African Medical Journal. All rights reserved