CLINICAL FEATURES: Six weeks before coming to the clinic, the patient remembered twisting, hearing a pop, and having severe low back pain. Two weeks after the incident, while hospitalized for bacterial cellulitis, he underwent lumbar spine radiography. The radiographs showed degenerative changes and remote (healed) compression fractures but did not demonstrate any deformity of L2. Four weeks later, he sought care for persistent low back pain. Radiographs revealed marked compression of the L2 vertebral body with an intravertebral vacuum phenomenon.
INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: The patient was referred to his geriatrician for evaluation as a candidate for vertebroplasty or other stabilization procedures. He required a moderately high dose (60 mg) of prednisone daily to combat the symptoms of myasthenia gravis; therefore, the prognosis appears unfavorable for this patient.
CONCLUSION: Clinical research is needed to determine the definitive etiology and pathophysiology of Kummell's disease. This case demonstrates that the intravertebral vacuum is a dynamic entity, subject to changes in size and shape. Previous case reports have suggested that Kummell's disease only presents as a linear, horizontal cleft. This disease needs further investigation to determine the true correlation between radiographic signs and the underlying pathophysiology.
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