Background: Calcification of cervical intervertebral discs is
uncommon in children. The cases of approximately 200 children have been
reported in the literature. The objective of the present study was to examine
the natural history of this condition.
Methods: Seventeen consecutive children, ten boys and seven girls,
with calcified cervical intervertebral discs were included in the study. The
mean age at diagnosis was 7.7 years. Three children had had a fever, and two
had a history of trauma. All of the children complained of neck pain except
one who was asymptomatic and was identified by chance. On radiographs, the
calcification was seen within the central part of the cervical intervertebral
discs. All children had treatment of the symptoms, and they were then followed
periodically until the disappearance of both the symptoms and the calcific
Results: The children were followed for a mean of five years, and
all had a complete disappearance of both the symptoms and the calcification.
None had recurrent symptoms or calcifications. The average time to resolution
of the symptoms and the calcifications was 34.3 days (range, seventeen to 173
days) and fifteen months (range, three to sixty months), respectively. With
the numbers available, factors such as age, level of disc calcification,
severity of symptoms, and degree of spinal canal compromise were not related
to the time of resolution.
Conclusions: Cervical disc calcification in children is a
self-limiting condition with an excellent prognosis. Even if clinical symptoms
due to nerve-root or spinal cord compression are present, conservative therapy
produces satisfactory results. Therefore, nerve-root or spinal cord
compression by a calcified cervical disc should not be considered an absolute
indication for surgical intervention.
Level of Evidence: Prognostic study, Level IV (case
series). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of