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Sacral stress fracture following the bone union of lumbar spondylolysis.

1. Introduction

Lumbar spondylolysis is the most significant cause of low back pain in high school and college football players [1]. Lumbar spondylolysis is considered to be a form of stress fracture, the development of which is frequently associated with vigorous sports activities during the growth period [2]. In an early stage of lumbar spondylolysis, an orthosis leads to bone union [3].

Matheson et al. reported that, among 320 athletes with a bone scan-positive stress fracture, a pelvic fracture was reported in only five cases (1.6%) [4]. A sacral stress fracture was first reported by Czarnecki et al., and, to the best of our knowledge, 46 cases have been reported in 22 articles till date [5-26]. We present the case of a patient with a sacral stress fracture following the bone union of lumbar spondylolysis and report on the radiological findings and treatment course. We considered the two stress fractures (lumbar spondylolysis and sacral stress fracture) causing low back pain that happened in one patient to be a very rare condition. The patient and his family gave consent to submit these data for publication.

2. Case Report

A 16-year-old male presented to our hospital with low back pain. He was a soccer player and had a history of lumbar spondylolysis that had been conservatively treated by a previous doctor. A period of rest and wearing a brace were advised in 2014. A lumbar computed tomography (CT) scan at his first visit to a previous doctor's clinic indicated that there were bilateral fracture lines in the L5 isthmus (Figures 1(a)-1(c)). His low back pain soon improved, and, after 10 months, he started playing soccer again in 2015. However, 2 months later, his low back pain recurred, and a 1-year follow-up lumbar CT indicated that his spondylolysis had united without displacement (Figures 2(a)-2(c)). He had no past history of malignant diseases or the use of steroid drugs.

2.1. Physiological Examination. The patient was 165 cm tall and weighed 50 kg. He complained of left sacral pain and had tenderness in the same region. A neurological examination at his first visit to our hospital indicated no neurological symptoms.

2.2. Laboratory Examination. Laboratory findings indicated a high alkaline phosphatase level and other tests were within normal limits (Table 1). There was no inflammatory reaction and infectious diseases were excluded.

2.3. Radiological Findings. Sacral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) obtained by the previous doctor showed a low-intensity T1-weighted image of the left second sacral ala and a high-intensity T2-weighted image and a short TI inversion recovery (STIR) image (bone marrow edema) compared with the right side. An oblique low lineal appearance could be seen in the bone marrow edema (Figures 3(a)-3(d)). On the basis of his sport history, laboratory data, past history, and radiological findings, the patient was diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture. Therefore, he was managed nonoperatively, and he discontinued soccer.

2.4. Treatment Course. His lower back pain soon improved and within one year he had returned to activities of daily living without lower back pain. However, he retired from the soccer club for fear of a recurrent stress fracture. A 1-year follow-up sacral STIR image showed that the abnormal signal appearance in the left second sacral ala had disappeared (Figures 4(a) and 4(b)). Based on the fact that his symptoms had disappeared and on the radiological findings, we considered his sacral stress fracture as united.

3. Discussion

Kaneko et al. identified seven (2.3%) fractures in 311 sports-related low back pain cases [25]. We reviewed 46 detailed case reports of sacral stress fractures of which 15 cases were male and 31 cases were female (Table 2). The average age was 21.9 years (range 9-46 years). The right side was affected in 23 cases and the left side in 22 cases and one case was bilateral. Reported sports were long-distance running, cross-country running, basketball, and soccer. Our case can be included here as a proper sacral stress fracture.

In previous reports, the diagnosis of a sacral stress fracture was made based on a sports history and radiological findings. The reported main radiological methods were a bone scintigram and MRI. According to Grier et al., suggestive MRI findings of a fatigue fracture were a central lineal signal void on both T1- and T2-weighted sequences surrounded by diffuse low marrow signals on T1 images and increased signals on T2 images [8]. Previous studies that documented a sacral stress fracture reported MRI findings with a lineal low-intensity appearance in the high signal intensity area on T2-weighted sequences [8,10, 11,14,17-20,22-26]. The MRI findings of this case were compatible based on the radiological findings of previous reports.

While 22 articles have reported on sacral stress fractures, some authors reported a sacral stress fracture as an uncommon injury, although it is not rare based on the number of previous reports [5-26]. The common criteria regarding a sacral stress fracture were young healthy athletes, MRI and/or bone scintigraphy as a diagnostic tool, and pain relief upon cessation of sports [5-26]. Based on the previous reports, we considered that complicated diagnosis and easy improvement by rest left sacral stress fracture not diagnosed and made it a not well-known disease for orthopedic doctors.

In our review of 37 cases of sacral stress fracture including descriptions of a past stress fracture (Table 3), five cases had a previous history of a stress fracture [10, 12, 14, 17, 18]. Three cases involved the tibia, one involved the metatarsal and tibia, and one involved the sacrum [10, 12, 14, 17, 18]. To our knowledge, this case is the first report of a sacral stress fracture after union of a lumbar spondylolysis and we consider it to be a rare pathological condition.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/9412315

Competing Interests

The authors declare that there are no competing interests regarding the publication of this paper.

References

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Tatsuro Sasaji, (1) Hideki Imaizumi, (1) Hiroyuki Takano, (1) Hideo Saitoh, (1) Taishi Murakami, (1) Ryuichi Kanabuchi, (1) and Motohiko Sekiya (2)

(1) Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Osaki Citizen Hospital, 3-8-1 Furukawa Honami, Osaki-shi, Miyagi 989-6183, Japan

(2) Sekiya Orthopedic Surgery, 5-1-19 Furukawa Ekimae Odori, Osaki-shi, Miyagi 989-6182, Japan

Correspondence should be addressed to Tatsuro Sasaji; taturosasaji@gmail.com

Received 24 July 2016; Accepted 9 November 2016

Academic Editor: Simon Ching-Shun Kao

Caption: Figure 1: Reconstructed computed tomography (CT) scan of the lumbar spine from the first visit to a previous doctor's office. (a) Right parasagittal reconstructed CT image. (b) Left parasagittal reconstructed CT image. (c) Axial CT image at L5 level. Fissures (black arrows) in the bilateral pars interarticularis of the L5 can be seen (a, b, c). These radiological findings indicated a bilateral spondylolysis of the L5.

Caption: Figure 2: A 1-year follow-up reconstructed computed tomography (CT) scan of the lumbar spine after initial conservative treatment. (a) Right parasagittal reconstructed CT image. (b) Left parasagittal reconstructed CT image. (c) Axial CT image at L5 level. The radiological findings indicated that the bilateral spondylolysis of the L5 had united (a, b, c).

Caption: Figure 3: Magnetic resonance image of the sacrum at the first visit to our hospital. (a) Coronal plane on a T1-weighted image. (b) Coronal plane on a T2-weighted image. (c) Coronal plane on a short TI inversion recovery (STIR) image. (d) Axial plane at the S2 level on a STIR image. The left sacral ala on a T1-weighted image shows a low intensity (a), a T2-weighted image shows a high intensity (b), and on a STIR image shows a high intensity (c) compared with the right sacral ala. These radiological findings indicated bone marrow edema. Oblique lineal signal void (white arrows) can be seen in the bone marrow edema; these are fracture lines. An axial plane on a STIR image shows a low-intensity area (white arrow) surrounded by a high-intensity area in the left ventral surface of the sacral ala (d).

Caption: Figure 4: Magnetic resonance images of the sacrum one year after conservative treatment. (a) Coronal plane on a short TI inversion recovery (STIR) image. (b) Axial plane at the S2 level on a STIR image. Coronal plane (a) and axial plane at the S2 level (b) on a STIR image show no abnormal signal intensity. These radiological findings indicated bone union of the sacral stress fracture.
Table 1: Laboratory data.

White blood cell (/[micro]L, 33-81)    4540
Alkaline phosphatase (U/L, 115-359)    494
Lactate dehydrogenase (U/L, 119-229)   189
Sodium (mEq/L, 138-146)                144
Chlorine (mEq/L, 99-109)               104
Potassium (mEq/L, 3.6-4.9)              4
Calcium (mg/dL, 8.7-10.3)              9.4
Phosphorus (mg/dL, 2.5-4.7)            4.2
Creatine kinase (U/L, 62-287)          120
C-reactive protein (mg/dL, 0-0.3)      0.03

Table 2: Review of reports.

Reference     Side       Sex                   Sports

[5]           Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[6]           Right     Female                 Runner
[7]           Right      Male           Long-distance runner
[8]           Left      Female                 Runner
[8]           Left       Male                   None
[9]           Left      Female   Cross-country and distance runner
[9]           Right     Female   Cross-country and distance runner
[9]           Left      Female            Multiple sports
[10]          Right     Female          Cross-country runner
[10]          Right     Female          Long-distance runner
[10]          Right     Female          Cross-country runner
[11]          Right      Male                Basketball
[12]          Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[13]          Right      Male                  Runner
[14]          Left      Female                 Soccer
[14]          Left      Female               Basketball
[14]          Left      Female                 Runner
[14]          Left      Female          Cross-country runner
[14]          Left      Female                Jogging
[14]          Right     Female                Jogging
[14]          Right     Female          Cross-country runner
[14]          Left      Female          Cross-country runner
[15]          Left      Female               Volleyball
[16]          Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[17,18]       Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[17,18]       Left      Female          Long-distance runner
[17,18]       Left      Female          Long-distance runner
[17,18]       Right     Female          Long-distance runner
[17,18]       Right     Female          Long-distance runner
[19]          Right     Female                 Tennis
[20]          Right     Female                 Runner
[20]          Right     Female          Cross-country runner
[21]          Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[21]          Left       Male                  Runner
[22]          Left      Female               Basketball
[22]          Left       Male           Long-distance runner
[23]          Right     Female                Marathon
[24]          Right      Male           Professional hockey
[25]          Right      Male                  Soccer
[25]          Right     Female                 Soccer
[25]          Right     Female      Softball and athletic sports
[25]          Right     Female                Softball
[25]        Bilateral    Male                Basketball
[25]          Right     Female               Basketball
[25]          Left       Male                 Baseball
[26]          Right     Female         Mounted police officer

             Age
Reference   (year)

[5]           26
[6]           28
[7]           40
[8]           14
[8]           9
[9]           21
[9]           21
[9]           17
[10]          20
[10]          21
[10]          20
[11]          20
[12]          19
[13]          28
[14]          21
[14]          20
[14]          45
[14]          22
[14]          41
[14]          19
[14]          20
[14]          21
[15]          16
[16]          21
[17,18]       20
[17,18]       21
[17,18]       21
[17,18]       20
[17,18]       21
[19]          46
[20]          21
[20]          18
[21]          26
[21]          23
[22]          16
[22]          17
[23]          34
[24]          27
[25]          15
[25]          18
[25]          10
[25]          15
[25]          14
[25]          16
[25]          15
[26]          26

Table 3: Review of reports.

Reference   A history of stress fracture

[5]                     None
[7]                     None
[8]                     None
[8]                     None
[9]                     None
[9]                     None
[9]                     None
[10]                    None
[10]                Right sacrum
[10]                    None
[11]                    None
[12]                 Right tibia
[13]                    None
[14]         Metatarsal, bilateral tibia
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[14]                    None
[15]                    None
[16]                    None
[17,18]                 None
[17,18]            Bilateral tibia
[17,18]              Right tibia
[17,18]                 None
[17,18]                 None
[20]                    None
[20]                    None
[21]                    None
[21]                    None
[22]                    None
[22]                    None
[23]                    None
[24]                    None
[26]                    None
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Case Report
Author:Sasaji, Tatsuro; Imaizumi, Hideki; Takano, Hiroyuki; Saitoh, Hideo; Murakami, Taishi; Kanabuchi, Ryu
Publication:Case Reports in Medicine
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jan 1, 2016
Words:2723
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