PREVALENCE OF ATLANTO-AXIAL INSTABILITY AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH CLINICAL SIGNS IN CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME
Introduction: A change in the atlanto-axial alignment in children with Down syndrome may be associated with pain, neurological disorders, high spinal cord compression and sudden death. Objective: To determine the prevalence of atlanto-axial instability in children with Down syndrome and its association with the presence of signs and symptoms of atlanto-axial instability. Methods: A cross-sectional study evaluated 21 children with Down syndrome aged between 3 and 5 years. Children who had undergone cervical spine surgery or who had diseases not associated with this syndrome were excluded. Sex, age, ethnicity of the child and the presence of signs suggestive of atlanto-axial instability, as reported by caregivers, such as neck pain, difficulty walking, weakness in the lower limbs, fatigue, difficulty with balance, urinary and fecal incontinence and projectile vomiting were studied. Children underwent a cervical spine X-ray in the lateral view in three positions: neutral, flexion and extension. When the atlas-odontoid distance was equal to or greater than 4.5 mm, atlanto-axial instability was diagnosed. Results: The prevalence of atlanto-axial instability in the studied population was 9.5%. There was no significant association revealed in the chi-square test between the signs suggestive of atlanto-axial instability and the presence of atlanto-axial instability (p > 0.05). Conclusions: Atlanto-axial instability is possibly not associated with its suggestive signs.
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