Coronal vertebral clefts refer to the presence of radiolucent vertical defects on a lateral radiograph.
It is most often seen in premature male infants 1,3. As they can occur as part of normal variation (especially in the lower thoracic-upper lumbar spine of premature infants) they should not be necessarily interpreted as a malformation if seen in a newborn radiograph 2.
However, they can also be found in association with 1:
- skeletal dysplasia(s)
It often represents a delay in normal vertebral maturation and results from a failure of fusion of anterior and posterior ossification centres which remain separated by a cartilage plate.
As a whole, there is a predilection for the lower thoracic and lumbar vertebral bodies 1,3.
On the lateral view of the spine, it may be seen as a vertical radiolucent band just behind the midportion of the body 3,4. The affected vertebra may appear somewhat larger than those adjoining them.
Treatment and prognosis
In most cases, the vertebral clefts disappear by six months after birth 3.
- 1. Gamuts in Radiology, Reeder and Felson’s. Fourth edition.
- 2. Tanaka T, Uhthoff HK. Coronal cleft of vertebrae, a variant of normal enchondral ossification. Acta Orthop Scand. 1983;54 (3): 389-95. - Pubmed citation
- 3. Kumar R, Guinto FC, Madewell JE et-al. The vertebral body: radiographic configurations in various congenital and acquired disorders. Radiographics. 1988;8 (3): 455-85. Radiographics (abstract) - Pubmed citation
- 4. Fawcitt J. Some radiological aspects of congenital anomalies of the spine in childhood and infancy. Proc. R. Soc. Med. 1959;52 (5): 331-3. - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
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