In the case of tumor resection in the upper cervical spine, a multilevel laminectomy with instrumented fixation is required to prevent kyphotic deformity and myelopathy. Nevertheless, instrumentation of the cervical spine in children under the age of 8 years is challenging due to anatomical considerations and unavailability of specific instrumentation.
We present a case of 3D-printed model-assisted cervical spine instrumentation in a 4-year-old child with post-laminectomy kyphotic decompensation of the cervical spine and spinal cord injury 1 year after medulloblastoma metastasis resection in the upper cervical spine. Due to unavailability of specific instrumentation, 3D virtual planning was used to assess and plan posterior cervical fixation. Fixation with 3.5 mm lateral mass and isthmic screws was suggested and the feasibility of fixation was confirmed “in vitro” in a 3D-printed model preoperatively to reduce the possibility of intraoperative implant-spine mismatch. Intraoperative conditions completely resembled the preoperative plan and 3.5 mm polyaxial screws were successfully used as planned. Postoperatively the child made a complete neurological recovery and 2 years after the instrumented fusion is still disease free with no signs of spinal decompensation.
Our case shows that posterior cervical fixation with the conventional screw-rod technique in a 4-year-old child is feasible, but we suggest that suitability and positioning of the chosen implants are preoperatively assessed in a printed 3D model. In addition, a printed 3D model offers the possibility to better visualize and sense spinal anatomy “in vivo,” thereby helping screw placement and reducing the chance for intraoperative complications, especially in the absence of intraoperative spinal navigation.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.