Sacrococcygeal dimples in neonates and infants are of uncertain pathological import. Previously they were believed to be rarely associated with intraspinal anomalies. Recent studies using MRI, however, revealed that 6%–7% of pediatric cases of sacrococcygeal dimples were associated with anatomical tethered spinal cord (TSC). Because the prevalence of tethered cord syndrome is still unclear, there is no consensus among pediatric neurosurgeons on the management of children with sacrococcygeal dimples. The authors performed an analysis of MRI and urodynamic studies to validate their management strategy for pediatric cases of sacrococcygeal dimples.
A total of 103 Japanese children (49 male and 54 female, median age 4 months, range 8 days–83 months) with sacrococcygeal dimples who were referred to the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery between 2013 and 2015 were included in this study. The lumbosacral region of all the patients was investigated using MRI. Anatomical TSC was defined as a condition in which the caudal end of the conus medullaris is lower than the inferior border of the L2–3 intervertebral disc. Patients with minor spinal anomalies (e.g., anatomical TSC, filum lipoma, thickened filum, or filar cyst) underwent further urodynamic studies to ascertain the presence of neurogenic bladder (NGB). In this study, the presence of NGB without anatomical TSC but with other minor spinal anomalies was defined as “functional TSC.” The prevalence of anatomical and functional TSC was investigated. The association of the following cutaneous findings with spinal anomalies was also assessed: 1) depth of the dimple, 2) deviation of the gluteal fold, and 3) other skin abnormalities (e.g., discoloration, angioma, or abnormal hair).
The children were classified into 4 groups: Group 1, patients with anatomical TSC; Group 2, patients with functional TSC; Group 3, patients without anatomical or functional TSC but with other minor spinal anomalies; and Group 4, patients with no spinal anomaly. There were 6 patients (5.8%) in Group 1, 8 patients (7.8%) in Group 2, 10 patients (9.7%) in Group 3, and 79 patients (76.7%) in Group 4. Twenty-four patients (23.3%; Groups 1, 2, and 3) showed MRI abnormalities, including filum lipoma (14 cases), filar cysts (5 cases), thickened filum (2 cases), and anatomical TSC without other spinal anomalies (3 cases). Untethering of the spinal cord was indicated for 14 patients (13.6%; Groups 1 and 2) with anatomical and functional TSCs. Preoperative NGB was found in 12 patients and improved postoperatively in 7 (58.3%). None of the associated lumbosacral skin findings predicted the presence of underlying spinal anomalies.
The prevalence of tethered cord syndrome among children with sacrococcygeal dimples was, for the first time, revealed to be higher than previously thought. MRI and supplemental urodynamic studies may be indicated for children with sacrococcygeal dimples to identify patients with symptomatic TSC.