Neuroradiology. 2023 Jan 21. doi: 10.1007/s00234-022-03111-8. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: This study assessed the position of the termination of the conus medullaris (the point where the spinal cord tapers to an end) and thecal sac (the sheath of dura mater that surrounds the spinal cord and caudal nerve roots) in a large pediatric population, to characterise the nature of the pediatric Gaussian distribution and assess whether age affected the distribution. The study further aimed to assess the effect of gender on termination positions.
METHODS: A total of 520 MRI spine studies of children aged between 1 month and 19 years old were collected from two pediatric tertiary referral centres in the UK and Italy. Studies with pathological findings were excluded, and normal scans were found using keyword search algorithms on a database of radiologists’ reports. The reported scans were individually assessed and reviewed by two experienced neuroradiologists. The termination points of the conus medullaris and thecal sac were determined for each study. Local IRB approvals were sought.
RESULTS: The results showcased a Gaussian distribution in both conus medullaris (r=0.8997) and thecal sac termination levels (r=0.9639). No statistically significant results were noted with increasing age for the termination positions of the conus medullaris or thecal sac (p = 0.154, 0.063). No statistical significance was observed with gender variation with either anatomical landmark. A weak positive correlation was observed between the termination levels of the conus medullaris and the thecal sac (r=0.2567) CONCLUSION: Termination levels across all pediatric age range followed a Gaussian distribution. Knowledge of normal termination levels has relevant clinical implications, including the assessment of patients with suspected spinal dysraphism.