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Hangman's fracture caused by suspected child abuse. A case report

Hangman's fracture caused by suspected child abuse. A case report

Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics. Part B 11(4): 329-332

This report highlights the difficulties associated with diagnosing cervical spine injuries in children especially as the history and mechanism of injury may often be unclear and the normal variations in roentgenographic appearance may be confusing. As far as we are aware this is only the second case of traumatic Hangman's fracture in a child under the age of 3 years and the only case where there is a strong probability of child abuse. A female child aged 23 months was admitted with a 5-day history of irritability and general malaise. Her father reported noticing that she was reluctant to move her neck. He denied any possibility of trauma. On admission she had neck stiffness with a temperature of 37 degrees C and supported her neck with her hands. There was evidence of otitis media of her right ear. Her physical examination was otherwise normal. A full blood count and lumbar puncture were within normal limits. Cervical spine x rays suggested a Hangman's fracture of C2 with slight anterior subluxation of C2 on C3 and a kyphus at that level. Computerized Tomography demonstrated no significant canal encroachment. An isotope bone scan was non-diagnostic. She was treated in a moulded cervical collar with neck held in slight extension. Her symptoms resolved and further radiographs showed improved alignment. Repeat CT scans seven weeks post admission showed callus formation. At follow-up at one year she remains asymptomatic. Hangman's fracture is very rare in children under 3 years and the considerable normal variations further complicate diagnosis. Swischuk described the posterior cervical line connecting the spinous process of C1-C3 vertebrae on the lateral projection to differentiate a true fracture dislocation from physiological anterior displacement. A detailed history, roentgenograms, bone scans, CT scans and MRI scans are often required for accurate diagnosis.

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Accession: 046211728

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 12370585

DOI: 10.1097/01202412-200210000-00011

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