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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.
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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.
- anterior spina bifida +/- anterior meningocele
- can be part of Alagille syndrome
- Crouzon syndrome 3
- Pfeiffer syndrome 3
- Jarcho-Levin syndrome
- VACTERL association 2
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.
History and etymology
Rokistanky (1804-1878), a renowned Austrian pathologist, was the first who described a Butterfly vertebra in 1844 7.
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