UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics


Keywords: SCIWORA, Spinal Cord Injury Without Radiographic Abnormality, MRI, steroids (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/14/2007 by Sean Fox, MD (Emailed: 7/8/2007) (Updated: 12/1/2023)
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SCIWORA (Spinal Cord Injury Without Radiographic Abnormality) Children <8yrs old can have their spinal cord stretched up to 5cm before rupture. Their cervical spinal columns are more mobile and held together with less stable ligaments allowing for horizontal movement of the vertebrae. The mobility of the spinal column allows for spontaneous reduction of subluxated vertebrae; therefore, CTs and plain radiographs will often appear normal at the time of ED evaluation. Any child with neurologic deficits or a concerning mechanism of injury deserves an MRI to evaluated for SCIWORA. No studies of the utility of steroids in children with spinal cord injury exist; current recommendations are to reserve methylprednisolone for those children who present with persistent or progressive neurologic deficits.