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The complex treatment paradigms for concomitant tethered cord and scoliosis: illustrative case

Rose Fluss, Riana Lo Bu, Andrew J Kobets, and Jaime A Gomez

BACKGROUND

Scoliosis associated with tethered cord syndrome is one of the most challenging spinal deformities to manage. Multiple surgical approaches have been developed, including traditional staged and concomitant procedures, spine-shortening osteotomies, and individual vertebral column resections.

OBSERVATIONS

A 10-year-old female presented with congenital kyphoscoliosis with worsening curve progression, tethered spinal cord, and a history of enuresis. The scoliosis had progressed to a 26° coronal curve and 55° thoracolumbar kyphosis. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging of the spine revealed a tethered cord between the levels of L3–4 and a large kyphotic deformity at L1. The patient underwent laminectomy, during which intraoperative motor signals were lost. A planned hemivertebrectomy at L1 was performed prior to an L4 laminectomy, untethering of the filum terminale, and posterior spinal fusion from T11 to L2. After surgery, the patient experienced transient lower-extremity weakness, with her neurological function improving from baseline over the next 2 months. Ultimately, the goal of this surgery was to halt the progressive decline in motor function, which was successfully achieved.

LESSONS

Much remains to be learned about the treatment of this complicated disease, especially in the setting of concomitant scoliosis. This case serves to exemplify the complex treatment paradigms that exist when attempting to manage this clinical syndrome and that more remains to be learned.

Open access

Surgical outcome of a patient with Bertolotti’s syndrome in whom the established Castellvi classification system failed: illustrative case

Richard J. Chung, Camryn Harvie, John O’Donnell, Sarah Jenkins, and Arthur L. Jenkins III

BACKGROUND

Bertolotti’s syndrome is a condition of the lower back and/or L5 distribution leg pain caused by a lumbosacral transitional vertebra (LSTV). Diagnosing the LSTV as the cause of the symptoms and condition is essential for accurate management of this syndrome. Castellvi’s classification system is widely accepted for LSTV anatomy, but it measures only one aspect of transitional anatomy and was intended primarily to identify target-level disk herniations.

OBSERVATIONS

In this case, the Castellvi classification system failed to identify the patient (with 2 years of back and L5 pain) as having an LSTV, even though he displayed LSTV-like anatomy because both L5 transverse process heights measured less than 19 mm. He attained brief but significant relief from bilateral injections into the L5–S1 transverse/ala region and underwent a minimally invasive bilateral decompression of L5–S1 with almost complete relief of his symptoms maintained more than 6 months postoperatively.

LESSONS

Given that the patient gained significant relief from treatment of transitional anatomy that failed to be identified using Castellvi’s classification system, this case suggests that transverse process height may not be adequate or even the most clinically relevant indicator in identifying LSTV anatomy, which is a precursor to the diagnosis of Bertolotti’s syndrome.