Vertebral pneumatocysts

Case contributed by Dr Ahmed Abdrabou


Long standing neck pain and recently developed left brachialgia

Patient Data

Age: 49 years old
Gender: Female

Small rounded lucent lesions at the posterior aspect of C3, C4, C5 and C6 vertebrae. Degenerative changes of cervical spine.


The lesions appear as air filled cysts seen at the posterior aspect of the vertebral bodies of C3,4,5 and C6 adjacent to the vertebral end plates. There is also gas within the intervertebral discs and possible communication between the cysts and the intradiscal gas.


The previously noted lesions appear hypointense on T1 and T2 and initially reported as sclerotic metastases and advise for CT.

Annotated image

Magnified CT images showing possible communication between the air filled cysts and the gas within the intervertebral discs.

Case Discussion

Vertebral pneumatocysts are air filled cavities within the vertebral bodies similar to other intraosseous pneumatocysts seen elsewhere specially adjacent to the sacroiliac joints. CT is diagnostic and differential diagnosis include necrotic neoplasm, osteomyelitis, osteonecrosis and post surgical sequel.

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Case information

rID: 34276
Published: 12th Feb 2015
Last edited: 14th Aug 2019
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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