Anterior vertebral body beaking occurs in a number of conditions and may emanate from the central portion or the lower third of the vertebral body.
Morquio syndrome 1 (middle for Morquio)
Hurler syndrome 2
Basilar invagination, also called basilar impression, is a congenital or acquired craniocervical junction abnormality where the tip of the odontoid process projects above the foramen magnum.
The terms basilar invagination and basilar impression are often used interchangeably becau...
Bone within a bone is a descriptive term applied to bones that appear to have another bone within them. There are numerous causes including:
thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (neonates and infants)
growth recovery lines (after infancy)
cortical splitting and new periostitis
sickle cell d...
Cervical spine injuries can involve the cervical vertebral column, intervertebral discs and cervical spine ligaments, and/or cervical spinal cord. The cervical spine accounts for ~50% of all spinal injuries.
5-10% of patients with blunt trauma have a cervical spine injury 1.
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) t...
Craniovertebral junction (CVJ) anomalies can be congenital, developmental or due to malformation secondary to any acquired disease process. These anomalies can lead to cranial nerve compression, vertebral artery compression and obstructive hydrocephalus.
The craniovertebral junction ...
A diffuse homogeneous bone marrow FDG uptake usually reflects hyperplastic bone marrow which can be seen in the following conditions:
granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
Diffuse T1 vertebral bone marrow signal loss is associated with replacement of fatty marrow by oedema or cellular tissue. T1-weighted imaging without fat suppression is one of the most important sequences for distinguishing between normal and abnormal bone marrow. In the case of homogenous invol...
Dural ectasia refers to ballooning or widening of the dural sac which can result in posterior vertebral scalloping and is associated with herniation of nerve root sleeves.
Patients with dural ectasia may present with low back pain or radicular pain in the buttocks or legs...
Erosion of the odontoid peg can result from a number of pathological entities:
rheumatoid arthritis: classic 1,2
systemic lupus erythematosus
calcium pyrophosphate arthropathy (CPPD): relatively common
non-inflammatory arthropathy: osteoar...
A gibbus deformity is a short-segment structural thoracolumbar kyphosis resulting in sharp angulation.
There are a number of causes which can be divided into congenital and acquired.
cretinism (congenital hypothyroidism)
Holocord presentation refers to a process which involves the spinal cord, from cervicomedullary junction to the tip of the conus. It does not relate to a specific condition nor does it distinguish between involvement by cystic expansion or solid tumour, or by a combination of both. It merely den...
Intervertebral disc calcification is a non-specific finding seen in numerous conditions.
It may be observed in paediatric 5 as well as adult populations.
degenerative: relatively common and may occur in up to 6% of routine abdominal radiographs in adults
Intradural extramedullary neoplasms are located outside the spinal cord but within the dural sheath.
The majority (70-80%) of spinal canal tumours are intradural extramedullary 1.
Patients present with signs and symptoms of spinal cord or nerve root compre...
Locked facet joint is a type of facet joint dislocation that results from jumping of the inferior articular process over the superior articular process of the vertebra below and becomes locked in the position.
It can be unilateral or bilateral.
The tip ...
Longitudinally extensive spinal cord lesions (LESCL), also known as longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM), represent extensive involvement of the spinal cord, with abnormal T2 signal traversing at least three vertebral body segments in length.
They are typi...
Loss of intervertebral disc space can be due to a variety of causes:
degenerative disc disease of the spine: most common cause
dialysis related spondyloarthropathy
crystal deposition diseases
Meningoceles are protrusions of the meninges through a defect or weak point in the skull or spine, usually involving the soft tissues beneath the surface of the skin. They are typically categorised into congenital, iatrogenic (e.g. following a craniotomy, sinus surgery, or as a laminectomy compl...
The differential diagnosis for masses of the cauda equina region is often considered separately to the remainder of the spinal cord. It is often difficult to determine whether masses in this region are intramedullary or intradural-extramedullary.
Most common tumours
Nerve root enhancement is phenomenon described on post contrast MRI scans that can be observed in a number of situations.
post-operative nerve root enhancement
disseminated spinal leptomeningeal metastases
Osteoarthritis of the vertebral column, also known as spondylosis deformans, is common and usually merely referred to as spinal "degenerative change". Complications such as spinal stenosis are important to recognise.
The hallmark of osteoarthritis in the spine, as is the...
Parasyndesmophytes or floating syndesmophytes are, as the name suggests, paravertebral dystrophic soft tissue calcifications or heterotopic ossifications.
They are known to be seen in psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis 4.
Initially they begin at a dist...
Posterior vertebral fusion anomalies are relatively common and should not be mistaken for fractures. They are thought to be both developmental and pathological (e.g. spondylolysis) but are typically asymptomatic and incidental, and considered as anatomical variants. There are six types of poster...
The Powers ratio is a measurement of the relationship of the foramen magnum to the atlas, used in the diagnosis of atlanto-occipital dissociation injuries.
The ratio, AB/CD, is measured as the ratio of the distance in the median (midsagittal) plane between the:
basion (A) and the posterior spi...
The most common tumour of the spine is metastatic deposits. A number of both benign and malignant tumours may arise primarily from the spine.
giant cell tumour (GCT)
aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC)
eosinophilic granuloma (EG)
The term retrolisthesis (more rarely the synonyms retrospondylolisthesis or posterolisthesis) refers to posterior displacement of a vertebral body relative to one below.
facet joint osteoarthritis
congenital anomalies: e.g. pedicle underdevelopment
A retropulsed fragment is any vertebral fracture fragment that is displaced into the spinal canal, thereby potentially causing spinal cord injury.
They usually arise from the vertebral body with or without a portion of the pedicle, and are displaced posteriorly, hence the prefix 'retro'.
Scheuermann disease, also known as juvenile kyphosis, juvenile discogenic disease 11, or vertebral epiphysitis, is a common condition which results in kyphosis of the thoracic or thoracolumbar spine. The diagnosis is usually made on plain film.
occurs in ~5% (range 0.4-8%) of the ...
Spinal cord compression is a surgical emergency, usually requiring prompt surgical decompression to prevent permanent neurological impairment.
There are numerous causes of cord compression. These can be divided according to the location of the compressing mass:
Spinal dysraphisms refer to a broad group of malformations affecting the spine and/or surrounding structures in the dorsum of the embryo. They are a form of neural tube defect.
The neural tube is formed by the lengthwise closure of the neural plate, in the dorsum of the embryo.
The differential diagnosis for a spinal epidural mass includes:
herniated nucleus pulposus
epidural arteriovenous malformation
Spinal fractures are usually the result of significant trauma to a normally formed skeleton, or the result of trauma to a weakened spinal column. Examples include:
Jefferson fracture: ring fracture of C1
hangman fracture: bilateral pedicle or pars fracture of C2
Spinal haematomas are a rare clinical entity and are often idiopathic. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial, lest they cause permanent neurological damage.
Identifying the location of the haematoma is important for treatment, as is distinguishing it, to the extent possible, from other ent...
Spinal metastases is a vague term which can be variably taken to refer to metastatic disease to any of the following:
vertebral metastases (94%)
may have epidural extension
intradural extramedullary metastases (5%)
intramedullary metastases (1%)
Each of these are discussed separately. Below...
Spinal vascular malformations (SVM) are rare but knowledge of them is important as if undiagnosed and untreated they can lead to serious complications.
There are two main types of SVMs 1,2:
spinal arteriovenous fistula (AVF): 70% of SVMs
pial: small, large, or giant
dural AVF (DA...
Subluxed facet joint is the mildest form of facet dislocation in which the ligamentous injury leads to partial uncovering of facet joint (c.f. complete uncovering in perched facet). This results in mild anterior displacement of one vertebral body on another (anterolisthesis).
Syndesmophytes are calcifications or heterotopic ossifications inside a spinal ligament or of the annulus fibrosus. They are seen in only a limited number of conditions including:
They can be classified as...
Torticollis (wryneck) is a clinical finding of head tilt with or without rotational spinal malalignment. It is not a diagnosis in itself and there are a wide range of underlying conditions. It is most common in the paediatric age group.
Torticollis can be acute (<1 week) or chronic ...
Traumatic spinal cord injury can manifest as a wide variety of clinical syndromes resulting from damage to the spinal cord or its surrounding structures. It can result from minor injury if the spine is weakened from disease such as ankylosing spondylitis or if there is pre-existing spinal stenos...
Unilateral facet dislocation is a relatively stable type of facet dislocation.
Flexion/distraction associated with rotation. The inferior articular facet of vertebral above moves over the superior facet of the vertebral below and becomes locked. It usually affects C4-C5 or...
The differential diagnosis for a vertebral body mass is broad and may range from a completely benign, sclerotic enostosis (bone island) to a malignant primary bone tumour.
Broadly, these lesions can be separated into:
primary bone tumours
Vertebral scalloping is a concavity to the posterior (or less commonly anterior) aspect of the vertebral body when viewed in a lateral projection. A small amount of concavity is normal, as is concavity of the anterior vertebral body (see vertebral body squaring).
Vertebra plana (pleural: vertebrae planae), also known as the pancake or silver dollar or coin-on-edge vertebra, is the term given when a vertebral body has lost almost its entire height anteriorly and posteriorly, representing a very advanced compression fracture.
It can occur in a ...
The (absent) pedicle sign, also called the winking owl sign, occurs on plain film when a pedicle is absent.
The term, winking owl sign, where the missing pedicle corresponds to the closed eye, the contralateral pedicle to the other open eye, and the spinous process to the beak of the animal on ...