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Techniques for restoring optimal spinal biomechanics to alleviate symptoms in Bertolotti syndrome: illustrative case

Nolan J Brown, Zach Pennington, Hania Shahin, Oanh T Nguyen, and Martin H Pham

BACKGROUND

Lumbosacral transitional vertebrae (LSTVs) are congenital anomalies that occur in the spinal segments of L5–S1. These vertebrae result from sacralization of the lowermost lumbar segment or lumbarization of the uppermost sacral segment. When the lowest lumbar vertebra fuses or forms a false joint with the sacrum (pseudoarticulation), it can cause pain and manifest clinically as Bertolotti syndrome.

OBSERVATIONS

A 36-year-old female presented with severe right-sided low-back pain. Computed tomography was unremarkable except for a right-sided Castellvi type IIA LSTV. The pain proved refractory to physical therapy and lumbar epidural spinal injections, but targeted steroid and bupivacaine injection of the pseudoarticulation led to 2 weeks of complete pain relief. She subsequently underwent minimally invasive resection of the pseudoarticulation, with immediate improvement in her low-back pain. The patient continued to be pain free at the 3-year follow-up.

LESSONS

LSTVs alter the biomechanics of the lumbosacral spine, which can lead to medically refractory mechanical pain requiring surgical intervention. Select patients with Bertolotti syndrome can benefit from operative management, including resection, fusion, or decompression of the pathologic joint.

Open access

Presacral mature cystic teratoma associated with Currarino syndrome in an adolescent with androgen insensitivity: illustrative case

Grant Koskay, Patrick Opperman, Frank M. Mezzacappa, Joseph Menousek, Megan K. Fuller, Linden Fornoff, and Daniel Surdell

BACKGROUND

Currarino syndrome is a rare disorder that classically presents with the triad of presacral mass, anorectal malformation, and spinal dysraphism. The presacral mass is typically benign, although malignant transformation is possible. Surgical treatment of the mass and exploration and repair of associated dysraphism are indicated for diagnosis and symptom relief. There are no previous reports of Currarino syndrome in an androgen-insensitive patient.

OBSERVATIONS

A 17-year-old female patient presented with lack of menarche. Physical examination and laboratory investigation identified complete androgen insensitivity. Imaging analysis revealed a presacral mass lesion, and the patient was taken to surgery for resection of the mass and spinal cord untethering. Intraoperative ultrasound revealed a fibrous stalk connecting the thecal sac to the presacral mass, which was disconnected without the need for intrathecal exploration. The presacral mass was then resected, and pathological analysis revealed a mature cystic teratoma. Postoperatively, the patient recovered without neurological or gastrointestinal sequelae.

LESSONS

Diagnosis of incomplete Currarino syndrome may be difficult but can be identified via work-up of other disorders, such as androgen insensitivity. Intraoperative ultrasound is useful for surgical decision making and may obviate the need for intrathecal exploration during repair of dysraphism in the setting of Currarino syndrome.