Anatomy of the pediatric spine and spine injuries in young athletes
Injuries to the spine in a young athlete can be devastating. They can also be very challenging to diagnose due to the anatomical and radiologic differences between the adult and the pediatric spine. A thorough history and full physical examination is of the utmost importance for evaluating any spine injury. This allows an understanding of possible injuries prior to any advanced imaging. Most injuries will require at least a standard set of radiographs, but many injury patterns will require further imaging. MRI is the preferred imaging modality in the pediatric population over CT scan due to the lack of ionizing radiation. Injuries range in severity from a muscle strain to fractures to spinal cord neurapraxias. The primary goal for treatment of these injuries is to prevent any long-term complications in this young population. The secondary goal of treatment is to return the pediatric athlete to the sport of their choice. With prompt and proper treatment both goals are attained most of the time.