Devoted to diagnostic and interventional spine imaging and therapeutics


Chronic Unilateral Locked Facet Mimicking Neurofibroma on MRI 2005

General Spine

Michael D Nelson, MD
Norbert Campeau , MD, Non ASSR Member


A nineteen year old female with a five-year history of back pain had undergone multiple MRI examinations of the cervical spine, which were interpreted as showing a mass expanding right C6-C7 neural foramen, presumed to represent a Neurofibroma. The patient was referred to our institution for a Neurofibromatosis workup. Repeat MRI of the cervical spine again demonstrated an abnormality involving the right C6-C7 neural foramen, however additional osseous abnormalities were noted involving the right C6-C7 facet joint. Follow up CT imaging of cervical spine was recommended, and this clearly demonstrated that all of the abnormalities were related to a chronic unilateral locked facet joint. Specifically, there was no evidence for a Neurofibroma. Our case illustrates that the diagnosis of unilateral locked facet may be difficult to establish on the basis of MRI imaging alone.