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Catastrophic Cervical Spine Injuries-Congenital Spinal Anomalies

Anatomical variants and congenital anomalies predispose athletes to certain forms of spinal cord injury. For example, Klippel-Feil syndrome, which reduces the number of motion segments in the spine, may lead to progressive instability or degenerative stenosis. Multiple fusions in the cervical spine in this condition make it difficult to dissipate loads that are applied to the cervical spine.

Hypoplasia of the dens (i.e., a failure of formation involving the second vertebra) and developmental os odontoideum can both result in atlantoaxial instability.

Many of these conditions are completely asymptomatic, and too often, the realization of their existence is appreciated only at the time of injury.

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