Absent congenital cervical pedicle nearly misdiagnosed as a facet dislocation: A case report

Scott Safir, Jonathan Rasouli, Jeremy Steinberger, Branko Skovrlj, Amish Doshi, Konstantinos Margetis, Saadi Ghatan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Cervical spinal injury encompasses up to 1.5% of all pediatric injuries. Children, and more specifically infants, are a difficult subset of patients to obtain neurological exam in the setting of trauma, thus necessitating the use of cervical X-rays, CT scans, and MRI imaging. Case description A healthy, 15-month-old boy had an unwitnessed fall down a flight of stairs and received a CT scan of the head and cervical spine in the emergency department due to cephalohematoma and mechanism of injury. The patient was initially diagnosed with a unilateral facet dislocation but after additional imaging and rigorous interdisciplinary discussions, the patient was correctly diagnosed with a congenitally absent left C5 pedicle. Surgical intervention was not pursued and the patient was discharged home with close follow up. Conclusion In the acute trauma setting, congenital absent cervical pedicle can be difficult to differentiate from unilateral facet dislocation and may require the use of advanced imaging and close communication between the neurosurgery and radiology departments. Given the high morbidity and mortality involved in the repair of facet dislocation in a child, it is crucial to maintain high degree of clinical suspicion for absent spinal pedicle. In this case, the patient nearly underwent surgical intervention, but was ultimately able to be discharged home with no symptoms or deficits after correct diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-23
Number of pages4
JournalInterdisciplinary Neurosurgery: Advanced Techniques and Case Management
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Absence
  • Cervical spine injury
  • Congenital
  • Deformity
  • Pediatrics
  • Pedicle
  • Trauma


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