Dermal sinus tract of the spine

Childs Nerv Syst. 2010 Mar;26(3):349-57. doi: 10.1007/s00381-009-0962-z. Epub 2009 Aug 7.


Objective: Spinal dermal sinus tract (DST) is a rare entity which usually comes to clinical attention by cutaneous abnormalities, neurologic deficit, and/or infection. We performed this study to assess presentation patterns, associated anomalies, radiologic, urologic, and surgical findings in children afflicted with spinal DST.

Methods: Medical records of 35 children treated for spinal DST in Children's Medical Center from January 2001 to December 2008 were reviewed.

Results: Patients' age ranged from 3 days to 8.44 years. Dermal sinuses were located most frequently in the lumbar and lumbosacral regions. The most common causes for referral were abnormal skin findings (57.1%) and infection (31.4%). Notably eight patients presented with meningitis. The overall rate of neurologic abnormalities was 37.1%, four of whom presented acutely with rapidly progressive paraplegia and meningitis. The most common magnetic resonance imaging finding was tethered cord (63%). At least one urological evaluation was performed in 30 patients, which revealed abnormal results in 77% of them. All patients underwent complete resection of the tract and repair of associated abnormalities. Most tracts terminated within the intradural space. Fifteen patients (42.8%) had inclusion tumor with the dermoid tumor being the most common. None of the patients demonstrated neurological deterioration postoperatively.

Conclusion: Dermal sinus tract is an innocuous-appearing spinal dysraphism that may contribute to devastating morbidities if not timely addressed. In order to prevent complications, timely surgical intervention including complete resection of sinus tract with intradural exploration and correction of associated abnormalities is of utmost importance.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spina Bifida Occulta / epidemiology*
  • Spina Bifida Occulta / pathology
  • Spina Bifida Occulta / surgery*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / surgery
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / surgery*
  • Spinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Spinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Spinal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Urologic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Urologic Diseases / pathology