Imaging of chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis of childhood first presenting with isolated primary spinal involvement

Skeletal Radiol. 2003 Jun;32(6):328-36. doi: 10.1007/s00256-002-0602-0. Epub 2003 Feb 21.


Objective: Initial presentation with primary spinal involvement in chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis of childhood (CRMO) is rare. Our objective was to review the imaging appearances of three patients who had CRMO who initially presented with isolated primary spinal involvement.

Design and patients: The imaging, clinical, laboratory and histology findings of the three patients were retrospectively reviewed. Imaging included seven spinal MR imaging scans, one computed tomography scan, nine bone scans, two tomograms and 16 radiographs. These were reviewed by two musculoskeletal radiologists and a consensus view is reported. All three patients presented with atraumatic spinal pain and had extensive bone spinal pathology. The patients were aged 11, 13 and 12 years. There were two females and one male.

Results and conclusions: The initial patient had thoracic T6 and T8 vertebra plana. Bone scan showed additional vertebral body involvement. Follow-up was available over a 3 year period. The second patient had partial collapse of T9 and, 2 years later, of C6. Subsequently extensive multifocal disease ensued and follow-up was available over 8 years. The third patient initially had L3 inferior partial collapse and 1 year later T8 involvement with multifocal disease. Follow-up was available over 3 years. The imaging findings of the three patients include partial and complete vertebra plana with a subchondral line adjacent to endplates associated with bone marrow MR signal alterations. Awareness of the imaging appearances may help the radiologist to include this entity in the differential diagnosis in children who present with spinal pathology and no history of trauma. Histopathological examination excludes tumor and infection but with typical imaging findings may not always be necessary.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Osteomyelitis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteomyelitis / pathology*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Recurrence
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed