Sunday, July 10, 2022


Blog Topic: Spinal Deformity in Neurofibromatosis Type 1



For details on Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF-1), I will refer you to Wikipedia:

As this blog focuses on spinal deformity in children and adolescents following is a brief summary as it relates to the musculoskeletal system (spine and extremities):

1.    1.  NF-1 causes tumors along nervous system which can grow anywhere on the body.

2.     2. Musculoskeletal abnormalities:

a.      Spine: Meningocoeles, dural ectasia, scoliosis, kyphosis

b.      Skeletal muscle weakness

c.      Long bones: pseudarthrosis (most commonly tibia), limb hypertrophy

3.      3. Approximately 20% of NF-1 patients will have spinal deformity.

4.     4. There are two types of spinal deformity in NF-1

a.      Idiopathic-like: looks and behaves more like idiopathic scoliosis

b.      Dystrophic

                                                    i.     Sharp, angulated spine deformity (kyphosis, scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis)

                                                   ii.     More common in the thoracic spine

                                                  iii.     Spines can start out having a more idiopathic-like deformity, which can change into a dystrophic type.

                                                  iv.     Causes penciling or thinning of the rib heads which can migrate into the spinal canal


 9 year old female



5.      5. Dural Ectasia: Circumferential enlargement or ballooning of the thecal sac, nerve root sleeves and spinal canal.

a.      More common in lumbar spine

b.      Causes vertebral body scalloping

c.      Also thins the pedicles



6.      6. Treatment

a.      For the idiopathic-like deformities, lower magnitude deformities are amenable to bracing. Surgical treatment mirrors guidelines for idiopathic scoliosis.

b.      For the dystrophic deformities:

                                                    i.     Bracing is limited in effectiveness

                                                   ii.     Surgery is performed for lower magnitude deformities due to the sharper-angulated deformities, increasing difficulty in achieving necessary spinal fixation and the risk of neurologic changes (such as weakness, sensory changes, bowel/bladder dysfunction).

Next several blog posts actual surgical cases of NF-1 will be presented.

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