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Open Access Highly Accessed Case Report

Painful rib hump: a new clinical sign for detecting intraspinal rib displacement in scoliosis due to neurofibromatosis

Andreas Gkiokas1, Socratis Hadzimichalis2, Elias Vasiliadis1*, Marina Katsalouli3 and Georgios Kannas2

Author Affiliations

1 1st Orthopaedic Department, Children's Hospital "P.&A. Kyriakou", Thivon & Levadias, Goudi, 11527, Athens, Greece

2 Neurosurgery Department, Children's Hospital "P.&A. Kyriakou", Thivon & Levadias, Goudi, 11527, Athens, Greece

3 Neurology Department, Children's Hospital "P.&A. Kyriakou", Thivon & Levadias, Goudi, 11527, Athens, Greece

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Scoliosis 2006, 1:10  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-1-10

Published: 14 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Spinal cord compression and associate neurological impairment is rare in patients with scoliosis and neurofibromatosis. Common reasons are vertebral subluxation, dislocation, angulation and tumorous lesions around the spinal canal. Only twelve cases of intraspinal rib dislocation have been reported in the literature. The aim of this report is to present a case of rib penetration through neural foramen at the apex of a scoliotic curve in neurofibromatosis and to introduce a new clinical sign for its detection.

Methods

A 13-year-old girl was evaluated for progressive left thoracic kyphoscoliotic curve due to a type I neurofibromatosis. Clinical examination revealed multiple large thoracic and abdominal "cafe-au-lait" spots, neurological impairment of the lower limbs and the presence of a thoracic gibbous that was painful to pressure at the level of the left eighth rib (Painful Rib Hump). CT-scan showed detachment and translocation of the cephalic end of the left eighth rib into the adjacent enlarged neural foramen. The M.R.I. examination of the spine showed neither cord abnormality nor neurogenic tumor.

Results

The patient underwent resection of the intraspinal mobile eighth rib head and posterior spinal instrumentation and was neurologically fully recovered six months postoperatively.

Conclusion

Spine surgeons should be aware of intraspinal rib displacement in scoliotic curves in neurofibromatosis. Painful rib hump is a valuable diagnostic tool for this rare clinical entity.