Spinal cord injuries without radiologic abnormality in children: a systematic review

Spinal Cord. 2015 Dec;53(12):842-8. doi: 10.1038/sc.2015.110. Epub 2015 Jul 14.


Study design: Systematic review.

Objectives: The objective of this study is to systematically review the literature for pediatric cases of spinal cord injuries without radiologic abnormality (SCIWORA) to investigate any possible relationship between initial neurologic impairment and eventual neurologic status.

Setting: A university department of orthopedics.

Methods: Following the preferred reporting items for systemic reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines for systematic review, the databases of PubMed and OvidSP were electronically searched for articles that use individuals under 18 years old, have trauma resulting in spinal cord injury and have no fractures or dislocations on radiographs. When available, the patients' age, sex, mechanism of injury and spinal cord level were recorded. Individuals with cervical injury, who had specific information on cervical level and mechanism of injury, were recorded as well. Patients who reported specific magnetic resonance imaging findings and the time from the injury were also reported. When possible, the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) was determined initially after the injury and then at last follow-up.

Results: A total of 433 pediatric patients were identified with SCIWORA. The most prevalent mechanism of injury was sports-related injury cases (39.83%) followed by fall (24.18%) and motor vehicle-related (23.18%) injuries. The mean improvement recorded for all patients was 0.89 AIS grades.

Conclusion: The most common mechanism of injury was sports-related and cervical injury, which occurred more frequently than other levels. Initial AIS grade A showed poorer outcomes in the pediatric population compared with the adult population. Initial presentation of D showed the highest likelihood of no permanent neurologic impairment (AIS of E).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Bibliographic / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology*
  • Trauma Severity Indices