Objective: The purpose of this report is to describe a case of an aneurysmal bone cyst presenting as a pathologic fracture in a young athlete.
Case report: A 12-year-old patient presented to a chiropractic teaching clinic with a 1-week history of posterior neck pain and stiffness following a helmet-to-helmet collision in football practice. Cervical spine radiographs were taken. Lateral view radiograph demonstrated a pathologic fracture through a lytic, expansive lesion in the posterior arch of C7 with mild subluxation of the C7/T1 apophyseal joints and angulation of the C7/T1 disk space. Based upon these findings, additional diagnostic imaging was ordered. Findings on advanced imaging studies included the following: On computed tomography, the C7 lesion showed medullary destruction, cortical thinning and expansion, and a horizontally oriented fracture through the spinous and lamina. Magnetic resonance imaging studies for sagittal T2 and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted magnetic resonance images revealed fluid/fluid levels in the C7 spinous and peripheral enhancement with contrast.
Outcome: The patient was referred to a local hospital for treatment. The lesion was treated with resection of the posterior arch, and an aneurysmal bone cyst was confirmed histologically. The patient developed a kyphotic deformity at the site of resection and cervical instability. A subsequent fusion was performed.
Conclusion: Aneurysmal bone cysts are rare lesions. In this case, the initial traumatic history masked the underlying pathology. Although rare, pathologic fracture should be considered in cases of vertebral fracture in young patients.
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