Utility of three-dimensional and multiplanar reformatted computed tomography for evaluation of pediatric congenital spine abnormalities.

Newton PO, Hahn GW, Fricka KB, Wenger DR. Spine 2002 Apr 15;27(8):844-50

STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective radiographic review of 31 patients with congenital spine abnormalities who underwent conventional radiography and advanced imaging studies was conducted. OBJECTIVE: To analyze the utility of three-dimensional computed tomography with multiplanar reformatted images for congenital spine anomalies, as compared with plain radiographs and axial two-dimensional computed tomography imaging. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Conventional radiographic imaging for congenital spine disorders often are difficult to interpret because of the patient’s small size, the complexity of the disorder, a deformity not in the plane of the radiographs, superimposed structures, and difficulty in forming a mental three-dimensional image. Multiplanar reformatted and three-dimensional computed tomographic imaging offers many potential advantages for defining congenital spine anomalies including visualization of the deformity in any plane, from any angle, with the overlying structures subtracted. METHODS: The imaging studies of patients who had undergone a three-dimensional computed tomography for congenital deformities of the spine between 1992 and 1998 were reviewed (31 cases). All plain radiographs and axial two-dimensional computed tomography images performed before the three-dimensional computed tomography were reviewed and the findings documented. This was repeated for the three-dimensional reconstructions and, when available, the multiplanar reformatted images (15 cases). In each case, the utility of the advanced imaging was graded as one of the following: Grade A (substantial new information obtained), Grade B (confirmatory with improved visualization and understanding of the deformity), and Grade C (no added useful information obtained). RESULTS: In 17 of 31 cases, the multiplanar reformatted and three-dimensional images allowed identification of unrecognized malformations. In nine additional cases, the advanced imaging was helpful in better visualizing and understanding previously identified deformities. In five cases, no new information was gained. The standard and curved multiplanar reformatted images were best for defining the occiput-C1-C2 anatomy and the extent of segmentation defects. The curved multiplanar reformatted images were especially helpful in keeping the spine from “coming in” and “going out” of the plane of the image when there was significant spine deformity in the sagittal or coronal plane. The three-dimensional reconstructions proved valuable in defining failures of formation. CONCLUSIONS: Advanced computed tomography imaging (three-dimensional computed tomography and curved/standard multiplanar reformatted images) allows better definition of congenital spine anomalies. More than 50% of the cases showed additional abnormalities not appreciated on plain radiographs or axial two-dimensional computed tomography images. Curved multiplanar reformatted images allowed imaging in the coronal and sagittal planes of the entire deformity.