Stingray spear injury to the pediatric spinal cord: case report and review of the literature

Childs Nerv Syst. 2020 Aug;36(8):1811-1816. doi: 10.1007/s00381-020-04629-z. Epub 2020 May 2.


Stingray injuries are rare, mostly causing injuries to the lower extremities but occasionally fatal if there is direct puncture of the thorax, abdomen, or neck. Direct combined stingray injury to the central nervous system has not been reported in the literature. Herein we present the case of a 12-year-old boy who, while wading at the seashore of the Costa Rica's Pacific Ocean, sustained a combined oblique penetrating injury to the C6 vertebra caused by a Stingray. He initially presented to the hospital with a complete asymmetric right C6/left T1 ASIA A examination, priapism, and loss of anal sphincter tone. Imaging revealed fracture of the posterior elements of C6 with an oblique trajectory into the left radicular foramen. T2W images did not reveal anatomical section but rather edema and minor bleeding in the epidural space. The patient underwent medical management and serial imaging. During the next 3 months, there was recovery of sensation on the right hemi body, bilateral paresthesias and asymmetric progressive improvement in strength on both legs. Acute care management and midterm term follow up are provided, along with a review of the literature for salient management considerations when evaluating and treating combined penetrating and envenomation injuries caused by stingrays. To our knowledge, this is the first report of such injury to the spine.

Keywords: Case report; Child; Pediatric; Spear injury; Spinal cord; Stingray.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skates, Fish*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / etiology
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Penetrating* / etiology