Internal Stabilization of a Flexion-Distraction Injury of the Upper Cervical Spine of a Toddler: A New Technique and Literature Review

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Abstract

Study Design.

A case report and literature review.

Objective.

To present a new and simple technique of fixation without fusion of a rare unstable Salter-Harris type I injury in the upper cervical spine of a 23-month-old toddler.

Summary of Background Data.

Surgical treatment of unstable pediatric cervical spine injuries most commonly involves posterior fusion with internal fixation, usually posterior wiring.

Methods.

Detailed description of the surgical procedure carried out for fixating an unstable flexion-distraction injury in a 23-month-old toddler, with severe head injury and pneumothorax, is presented.

Results.

A rare unstable flexion-distraction injury in the upper cervical spine of a toddler was successfully treated with a posterior Number 2 Vicryl (polyglactin 910; ETHICON Division of Johnson & Johnson) suture fixation, with good healing of the ligaments and end plates, without fusion. Preservation of motion was achieved without obvious instability at 28 months postsurgery.

Conclusion.

In selected cases of cervical spine injuries in the young pediatric population, simple stabilization of the spine using degradable Number 2 Vicryl (polyglactin 910) sutures with minimal exposure can provide sufficient stability until healing occurs. Advantages are that fusion is avoided and motion preserved.

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