Contralateral Spondylolysis and Fracture of the Lumbar Pedicle in a Young Athlete

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Abstract

Study Design.

Clinical case report of unilateral pedicular stress fracture with a contralateral spondylolysis in a male high-school athlete presenting with low back pain.

Objective.

To report this uncommon cause of low back pain in an adolescent athlete, and review the relevant literature.

Summary of Background Data.

The incidence of spondylolysis in the Caucasian population was found to be about 3% to 6%. This number is probably higher in the athletic adolescent age group, with reports ranging from 8% to 15%. Spondylolysis may be associated with pedicle fracture, usually on the contralateral side. This is an uncommon phenomenon that is not well described in the adolescent age group.

Methods.

A 16-year-old male athlete presents with low back pain and limitation in sports as well as in daily activities. Clinical evaluation was suspicious for, and radiographic evaluation revealed left-sided L5 spondylolysis as well as contralateral L5 pedicle fracture. Conservative management included Boston Overlapping brace, external electrical stimulation, modification of activities, and a comprehensive physical therapy program.

Results.

Radiological evaluation revealed persistent left L5 pars defect and advanced healing of the contralateral pedicle fracture. The patient achieved complete pain relief and returned to varsity level sporting activity.

Conclusion.

Complete radiographic and clinical healing of the pedicle defect was observed, with return competitive varsity-level football without symptoms.

Conclusion.

Level of Evidence: 5

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