Muhammad Asad Qureshi, Ambreen Asad, Ibrahim Farooq Pasha, Arslan Sharif Malik, Vincent Arlet

September 2009, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1249 - 1254 Grand Rounds Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-1099-1

First Online: 21 July 2009

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Congenital scoliosis associated with split cord malformation raises the issue on how to best manage these patients to avoid neurologic injury while achieving satisfactory correction. We present the case of a 12-year-old girl who first presented when she was 11-year old with such combination but without much physical handicap or neurological deficit. The corrective surgery offered at that time was refused by the family. She again presented after 1 year with documented severe aggravation of the curve resulting in unstable walking and psychological upset. Her imaging studies showed multiple malformations in lower cervical and thoracic spine and a split cord malformation type 2 (fibrous septum with diplomyelia) at the apex of the deformity. A one-stage correction was deemed neurologically too risky. We therefore performed during a first stage a thoracotomy with anterior release. This was followed by skeletal traction with skull tongs and bilateral femoral pins. After gradual increase in traction weights a reasonable correction was achieved without any neurological deficit, over the next 10 days. A second-stage operation was done on the 11th day and a posterior instrumented fusion was performed. Post-operative recovery was uneventful and there were no complications. She was discharged with a Boston Brace to be worn for 3 months. At 2-year follow-up the patient outcome is excellent with excellent balance and correction of the deformity. In this grand round case, we discuss all the different option of treatment of congenital scoliosis associated with split cord malformation. In a medical environment where spinal cord monitoring is lacking, we recommend an initial release followed by skull and bifemoral traction over several days to monitor the neurologic status of the patient. Once optimal correction is achieved with the traction, a posterior instrumentation can be safely done.

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