Clasp-knife deformity is relatively common congenital anomaly found at the lumbosacral junction.
Clasp-knife syndrome, is one of many causes of low back pain. It occurs when a clasp-knife deformity is accompanied by pain on extension secondary to protrusion of the enlarged spinous process (knife blade) into the sacral spinal canal.
When a clasp-knife deformity is accompanied by pain on extension secondary to protrusion of the enlarged spinous process (knife blade) into the sacral spinal canal, it is called clasp-knife syndrome 2 also called spina bifida engagement syndrome.
It is characterised by a large midline defect of the posterior arch of the sacrum (usually S1/S2 and occasionally S3) along with hypertrophy (or overgrowth) of the spinous process of the vertebra above (usually L5) 1-2.
History and etymology
The term of clasp-knife deformity was coined by G.W. Henry in 1958 as an analogy to the blade of a pocket (clasp) knife folding into its handle 3,4.
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- 2. Goobar JE, Erickson F, Pate D et-al. Symptomatic clasp-knife deformity of the spinous processes. Spine. 1988;13 (8): 953-6. Pubmed citation
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- 4. Henry GW, Larsen IJ, Stewart SF. The roentgenologic criteria for appraising the human back as an economic asset or liability. The American journal of roentgenology, radium therapy, and nuclear medicine. 79 (4): 658-72. Pubmed