Purpose: This study was done to assess the presence of both asymptomatic and symptomatic intervertebral disc calcifications in a large paediatric population. Materials and methods: We retrospectively reviewed the radiographs taken during the past 26 years in children (age 0-18 years) undergoing imaging of the spine or of other body segments in which the spine was adequately depicted, to determine possible intervertebral disc calcifications. The following clinical evaluation was extrapolated from the patients' charts: presence of spinal symptoms, history of trauma, suspected or clinically evident scoliosis, suspected or clinically evident syndromes, bone dysplasias, and preor postoperative chest or abdominal X-rays. Results: We detected intervertebral disc calcifications in six patients only. Five calcifications were asymptomatic (one newborn baby with Patau syndrome; three patients studied to rule out scoliosis, hypochondroplasia and syndromic traits; one for dyspnoea due to sunflower seeds inhalation). Only one was symptomatic, with acute neck pain. Calcifications varied in number from one in one patient to two to five in the others. Conclusions: Apart from the calcification in the patient with cervical pain, all calcifications were asymptomatic and constituted an incidental finding (particularly those detected at the thoracic level in the patient studied for sunflower-seed inhalation). Calcification shapes were either linear or round. Our series confirms that intervertebral disc calcifications are a rare finding in childhood and should not be a source of concern: symptomatic calcifications tend to regress spontaneously within a short time with or without therapy and immobilisation, whereas asymptomatic calcifications may last for years but disappear before the age of 20 years. Only very few cases, such as those of medullary compression or severe dysphagia due to anterior herniation of cervical discs, may require surgical procedures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging