The Role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Investigation of Spinal Dysraphism in the Child with Lower Limb Abnormality

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A review of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed to exclude the presence of spinal dysraphism in children presenting with lower limb pathology is unrewarding in the absence of abnormal neurology. Over a 5-year period, 29 children ages 2 weeks to 15 years with a mean age of 6 years presenting with lower limb abnormalities were referred for MRI of the spine to exclude an occult neurologic cause for the deformities. More than one limb abnormality, for example pes cavus and limb length discrepancy, was present in 93% of the children, and 11 children had severe or recurrent talipes equinovarus deformity. Only two children (7%), both of whom had abnormal limb neurology, had abnormal MRI scans. In the absence of a demonstrable neurologic deficit in the lower limb, there appears to be no advantage in requesting MRI of the spine in children presenting with lower limb abnormality.

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