Sacral agenesis and caudal spinal cord malformations

Neurosurgery. 1993 May;32(5):755-78; discussion 778-9. doi: 10.1227/00006123-199305000-00009.


Thirty-three children and one adult with sacral agenesis (SA) were studied by computed tomographic myelography and/or magnetic resonance imaging and were monitored for a mean period of 4.7 years. Four children had the OEIS (concurrent omphalocele, cloacal exstrophy, imperforate anus, and spinal deformities) complex, and three others had VATER (vertebral abnormality, anal imperforation, tracheoesophageal fistula, and renal-radial anomalies) syndrome. All patients shared some of the characteristic features of SA, namely, a short, intergluteal cleft, flattened buttocks, narrow hips, distal leg atrophy, and talipes deformities. Neurologically, lumbosacral sensation was much better preserved than the motor functions, and urinary and bowel symptoms were universal. The level of the vertebral aplasia was correlated with the motor but not with the sensory level. The important neuroimaging findings of SA were as follows: 1) 12 patients (35%) had nonstenotic, tapered narrowing of the caudal bony canal, and 2 patients had hyperostosis indenting the caudal thecal sac; 2) 16 patients (47%) had nonstenotic, tapered narrowing and shortening of the dural sac, but 3 patients (9%) had true, symptomatic dural stenosis, in which the cauda equina was severely constricted by a pencil-sized caudal dural sac; 3) the coni could be divided into those ending above the L1 vertebral body (Group 1, 14 patients) and those ending below L1 (Group 2, 20 patients). Thirteen of 14 Group 1 coni were club or wedge-shaped, terminating abruptly at T11 or T12, as if the normal tip was missing. All 20 Group 2 coni were tethered: 13 were tethered by a thick filum; 2 were extremely elongated and had a terminal hydromyelia; 3 were terminal myelocystoceles; and 2 were tethered by a transitional lipoma. High blunt coni were highly correlated with high (severe) sacral malformations (sacrum ending at S1), but low-lying tethered coni were highly correlated with low sacral malformations (S2 or lower pieces present).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnostic imaging
  • Abnormalities, Multiple / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cauda Equina / abnormalities*
  • Cauda Equina / diagnostic imaging
  • Cauda Equina / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fecal Incontinence / congenital
  • Fecal Incontinence / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Myelography
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Sacrum / abnormalities*
  • Sacrum / diagnostic imaging
  • Sacrum / surgery
  • Spinal Cord / abnormalities*
  • Spinal Cord / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord / surgery
  • Syndrome
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Urinary Incontinence / congenital
  • Urinary Incontinence / surgery