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Butterfly vertebra

Last revised by Dr Antonio Rodrigues de Aguiar Neto on 03 Aug 2022

Butterfly vertebra (also sometimes known as a sagittal cleft vertebra or anterior rachischisis) is a type of vertebral anomaly that results from the failure of fusion of the lateral halves of the vertebral body because of persistent notochordal tissue between them.

Butterfly vertebra can occur anywhere but the most commonly reported location is at T1 3,4. ~40% of cases may have multiple butterfly vertebrae.

Multiple associated have been described which include.

Widening of the affected vertebral body. The bodies above and below the butterfly vertebra adapt to the altered intervertebral discs on either side by showing concavities along the adjacent endplates.

Some bone bridging may occur across the defect which usually happens in the thoracic or lumbar segments of the spine.

Rokistanky (1804-1878), a renowned Austrian pathologist, was the first who described a Butterfly vertebra in 1844 7.

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: photo of a butterfly
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  • Case 1
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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4: with kyphoscoliosis
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  • Case 5: lumbarized S1 butterfly vertebra
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  • Case 6
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  • Case 7
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  • Case 8
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  • Case 9
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  • Case 10
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  • Case 11
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  • Case 12
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