Is the Scotty Dog Sign Adequate for Diagnosis of Fractures in Pediatric Patients with Lumbar Spondylolysis?

Masatoshi Morimoto, Toshinori Sakai, Tsuyoshi Goto, Kosuke Sugiura, Hiroaki Manabe, Fumitake Tezuka, Kazuta Yamashita, Yoichiro Takata, Takashi Chikawa, Koichi Sairyo
Spine surgery and related research 2019 January 25, 3 (1): 49-53

Introduction: Recent advances in diagnostic imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have allowed early diagnosis of lumbar spondylolysis (LS). However, few outpatient clinics are equipped with such imaging apparatuses and must rely on plain radiographs for the diagnosis of LS. The aim of this retrospective study was to identify how accurately fracture lines can be detected on plain radiographs in patients with LS.

Methods: Patients with a diagnosis of LS were staged as early, progressive, or terminal. We evaluated whether fracture lines could be detected on plain radiographs and compared the detection rates under the following conditions: two directions including anteroposterior and lateral views (2 views), four directions including both oblique views (4 views), four directions including dynamic lateral views (4-D views), and all six directions (6 views).

Results: In early LS, the fracture line detection rate was 11.4% using 2 views, 20.5% using 4 views and 4-D views, and 22.7% using 6 views. In progressive LS, the fracture line detection rate was 54.2% using 2 views, 70.8% using 4-D views, 75.0% using 4 views, and 79.2% using 6 views. The respective detection rates for terminal LS were 85.0%, 100%, 100%, and 100%.

Conclusions: Although terminal LS was diagnosed accurately on plain radiographs in all patients, the detection rates were only 22.7% and 79.2% in patients with early and progressive LS, respectively. These results suggest that plain radiographic films can no longer be considered adequate for early and accurate diagnosis of LS. Advanced imaging procedures, such as MRI in the early diagnosis or CT for persistent cases, are recommended to obtain an accurate diagnosis of early stage LS in pediatric patients requiring conservative treatment to achieve bony healing.

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