Education  |   September 2018
Butterfly Vertebrae
Author Notes
  • From the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Address correspondence to Dr. Grissom: tgrissom@som.maryland.edu
Article Information
Education / Images in Anesthesiology / Cardiovascular Anesthesia / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Systems / Neurosurgical Anesthesia / Obstetric Anesthesia / Pediatric Anesthesia / Radiological and Other Imaging / Respiratory System
Education   |   September 2018
Butterfly Vertebrae
Anesthesiology 9 2018, Vol.129, 582. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002258
Anesthesiology 9 2018, Vol.129, 582. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002258
Butterfly vertebrae result from ventral ossification failure of a vertebral body during the third to sixth week of gestation due to persistent remnants of the notochord (Image A).1  The vertebrae and intervertebral disks above and below typically compensate for the defect by elongating about the midline (Image B). The defect is often an incidental finding in medical imaging, and may initially be mistaken for metastatic disease or a wedge compression fracture. Butterfly vertebrae typically reside in the thoracic and lumbar regions; cervical butterfly vertebrae are rare, but their existence warrants a thorough airway exam as neck mobility may be limited due to pain or kyphosis.