The prevalence of nonmuscular causes of torticollis in children

J Pediatr Orthop. 1996 Jul-Aug;16(4):500-4. doi: 10.1097/00004694-199607000-00016.


Torticollis in children may result from a wide variety of pathologic processes. We retrospectively analyzed 288 patients seen in a tertiary care pediatric orthopedic facility for the evaluation of torticollis over a 10-year period to ascertain the frequency of nonmuscular causes of this condition. Fifty-three of these children (18.4% of the study population) had a nonmuscular etiology for their torticollis. Of these 53 patients, Klippel-Feil anomalies were present in 16 (30%), and an underlying neurologic disorder was present in 27 (51%). These neurologic conditions included ocular disorders in 12 (23%) patients, brachial plexus palsies in nine (17%) patients, and lesions involving the central nervous system in six (11%) patients. We conclude that nonmuscular causes of torticollis are collectively not rare. In a child without an identifiable muscular etiology for torticollis, Klippel-Feil anomalies or an underlying neurologic disorder is likely to be the cause of the deformity in the majority of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / complications
  • Torticollis / etiology*