Imaging of Pediatric Growth Plate Disturbances.
Radiographics. 2017 Oct;37(6):1791-1812. doi: 10.1148/rg.2017170029. Nguyen JC1, Markhardt BK1, Merrow AC1, Dwek JR1.
The growth plates, or physes, are visible on virtually all images obtained in skeletally immature children. The proper function of these growth plates depends on an intricate balance between chondrocyte proliferation, which requires nourishment from the epiphyseal vessels, and chondrocyte death, which requires the integrity of the metaphyseal vessels. Therefore, injury to the growth plate (ie, direct insult) or vascular compromise on either side of the growth plate (ie, indirect insult) can cause growth plate dysfunction. Direct growth plate insults occur most commonly with Salter-Harris fractures, and injuries that allow the transphyseal communication of vessels are at a higher risk for subsequent transphyseal bone bridge formation. Indirect insults lead to different sequelae that are based on whether the epiphyseal blood supply or metaphyseal blood supply is compromised. Epiphyseal osteonecrosis can result in slowed longitudinal bone growth, with possible growth plate closure, and is often accompanied by an abnormal secondary ossification center. In contrast, the disruption of metaphyseal blood supply alters endochondral ossification and allows the persistence of chondrocytes within the metaphysis, which appear as focal or diffuse growth plate widening. Imaging remains critical for detecting acute injuries and identifying subsequent growth disturbances. Depending on the imaging findings and patient factors, these growth disturbances may be amenable to conservative or surgical treatment. Therefore, an understanding of the anatomy and physiologic features of the normal growth plate and the associated pathophysiologic conditions can increase diagnostic accuracy, enable radiologists to anticipate future growth disturbances, and ensure optimal imaging, with the ultimate goal of timely and appropriate intervention. ©RSNA, 2017.