[Diagnostics and treatment of thoracic and lumbar spine trauma in pediatric patients : Recommendations from the Pediatric Spinal Trauma Group]

Thomas Weiß, Alexander C Disch, Michael Kreinest, Jan-Sven Jarvers, Christian Herren, Matthias K Jung, Holger Meinig, Hauke Rüther, Thomas Welk, Michael Ruf, Andreas Badke, Oliver Gonschorek, Christoph E Heyde, Frank Kandziora, Christian Knop, Philipp Kobbe, Matti Scholz, Holger Siekmann, Ulrich Spiegl, Peter Strohm, Christoph Strüwind, Stefan Matschke
Der Unfallchirurg 2020, 123 (4): 269-279

BACKGROUND: Spinal injuries in pediatric patients are overall very rare. Current reference studies including large patient numbers that enable the formulation of evidence-based recommendations on diagnostics and treatment of these injuries do not exist.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the current study was to formulate recommendations on the diagnostics and treatment for injuries of the thoracic and lumbar spine in pediatric patients.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Firstly, a search for primary and secondary literature on the topic of diagnostics and treatment of spinal injuries in children was carried out. From this, a literature database was established and maintained. Secondly, within the framework of 9 meetings in the time period from April 2017 to December 2019 the members of the Pediatric Spinal Trauma Group of the Spine Section of the German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma (DGOU) documented recommendations on diagnostics and treatment of injuries of the thoracic and lumbar spine in pediatric patients by a consensus process.

RESULTS: Recommendations on the diagnostics and treatment of injuries of the thoracic and lumbar spine could be given for 3 age groups (age group I: 0-6 years; age group II: 7-9 years; age group III: 10-16 years). Diagnostic and therapeutic principles known from adult patients suffering from injuries to the thoracic or lumbar spine cannot easily be transferred to pediatric patients.

CONCLUSION: Spinal injuries in childhood are rare and should be treated in specialized spine centers. Pediatric patients with a stable cardiopulmonary status should undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if a spinal trauma is suspected. The basic principles of the treatment of spinal trauma in children is the restoration of spinal stability and correct anatomical parameters as well as the protection of all neural structures. The potential for correction and regeneration of the individual spinal sections depending on the age of the patient must be considered for deciding between operative vs. conservative treatment. Whenever operative treatment is needed, it should be performed by minimally invasive techniques as a sole instrumentation without spondylodesis. An early removal of the screw-rod-system should be performed.

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