Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Absent cervical spine pedicle and associated congenital spinal abnormalities - a diagnostic trap in a setting of acute trauma: case report

Roman Guggenberger1*, Gustav Andreisek1, Hans Scheffel1, Simon Wildermuth2, Sebastian Leschka2 and Paul Stolzmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute of Radiology, General Hospital Saint Gall, Saint Gall, Switzerland

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BMC Medical Imaging 2010, 10:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-10-25

Published: 9 November 2010



Congenital spinal abnormalities can easily be misdiagnosed on plain radiographs. Additional imaging is warranted in doubtful cases, especially in a setting of acute trauma.

Case Presentation

This patient presented at the emergency unit of our university hospital after a motor vehicle accident and was sent to our radiology department for imaging of the cervical spine. Initial clinical examination and plain radiographs of the cervical spine were performed but not conclusive. Additional CT of the neck helped establish the right diagnosis.


CT as a three-dimensional imaging modality with the possibility of multiplanar reconstructions allows for the exact diagnosis and exclusion of acute traumatic lesions of the cervical spine, especially in cases of doubtful plain radiographs and when congenital spinal abnormalities like absent cervical spine pedicle with associated spina bifida may insinuate severe trauma.