ISSN: 1899-0967
Polish Journal of Radiology
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vol. 88
Pediatric radiology
Original paper

Children with back pain – a radiologist’s approach

Hanna Potoczna
Jan Bereda
Anna Mania
Katarzyna Mazur-Melewska
Katarzyna Jończyk-Potoczna

Faculty of Medicine, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Department of Infectious Diseases and Child Neurology, Institute of Pediatrics, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
Department of Pediatric Radiology, Institute of Pediatrics, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland
© Pol J Radiol 2023; 88: e371-e378
Online publish date: 2023/08/18
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The aim of the study was to analyse magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of paediatric patients referred because of back pain.

Material and methods:
The retrospective analysis included the medical records of 328 patients referred in 2020-2022 to the Department of Paediatric Radiology for spine examination. The criterion for inclusion in the analysed group was back pain as the dominant symptom. This symptom occurred in 20% (68 patients) of referrals for MRI examinations. The examination was performed with the 3T Magnetom Spectra.

In 68 patients aged 2 to 17 years, with back pain as the first diagnosis, 53% (36 patients – 16 girls and 20 boys) showed abnormalities. The rest of the tests were assessed as normal. Among the patients with an abnormal MR image, the largest group were children with degenerative changes diagnosed: 10 children (28%) aged 13-17 years. In 9 patients (25%) aged 2-16 years the final diagnosis qualified the patients to the group of oncological diagnoses. Another group of 7 (19%) patients, aged 6-14 years, comprised children diagnosed with inflammation. The group of 5 patients, aged 3-17 years, presented symptoms most likely related to the trauma. One 7-year-old boy was diagnosed with large calcifications within the intervertebral disc.

Back pain, with accompanying neurological symptoms, should not be underestimated. Although in most clinical situations the MR image is normal, in the case of persistent symptoms and neurological abnormalities confirmed by the clinician, extending the diagnostics with MR imaging should be considered. This imaging can accelerate the correct diagnostic path or make a very precise diagnosis.


children, back pain, magnetic resonance, imaging

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