Pediatric Spinal Cord Diseases

Pediatr Rev. 2021 Sep;42(9):486-499. doi: 10.1542/pir.2020-000661.


Spinal cord diseases in pediatric patients are highly variable in terms of presentation, pathology, and prognosis. Not only do they differ with respect to each other but so too with their adult equivalents. Some of the most common diseases are autoimmune (ie, multiple sclerosis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and acute transverse myelitis), congenital (ie, dysraphism with spina bifida, split cord malformation, and tethered cord syndrome), tumor (ie, juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, ependymoma, and hem-angioblastoma), and vascular (ie, cavernous malformations, arteriovenous malformations, and dural arteriovenous fistulas) in nature. These each require their own niche treatment paradigm and prognosis. Furthermore, presentation of different spinal cord diseases in children can be difficult to discern without epidemiologic and imaging data. Interpretation of these data is crucial to facilitating a timely and accurate diagnosis. Correspondingly, the aim of this review was to highlight the most pertinent features of the most common spinal cord diseases in the pediatric population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Myelitis, Transverse*
  • Neural Tube Defects*
  • Spinal Cord
  • Spinal Cord Diseases*
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / diagnosis
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / therapy