BACKGROUND: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children. Manifestations of ALL vary from pallor, organomegaly, fever, and pancytopenia. Bone pain caused by vertebrae fracture is an uncommon manifestation of ALL, approximately only 16% of all bone pain occurrences. Fractures in ALL could occur at diagnosis and following treatment initiation. This case report described vertebrae compression fracture due to osteonecrosis as the initial sign of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
CASE: An 8-year-10-month girl was referred to an orthopedic because of worsened low back pain since 1 month before, with no history of trauma. The pain was throbbing and radiated to the lower extremities. The patient was non-ambulant due to the pain. Physical examination revealed the visual analog scale was 8, tenderness in the spine, decreased strength, and range of movement in the lower extremities. There was no organomegaly in this patient. Serial laboratory examination revealed mild pancytopenia (leukopenia, mild normochromic normocytic anemia, mild thrombocytopenia) with dominancy of lymphocytes (68.1-81.9%). No blast was found in the peripheral blood smear. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the spine revealed compression of the vertebral corpus with a pincer fracture and bone infarction. Bone marrow aspiration showed ALL-L2 with lymphoblast 50%. The patient started chemotherapy with ALL standard risk protocols and got zoledronic acid during the treatment. The patient's condition gradually improved, and able to undergo chemotherapy protocol. No side effects of zoledronic acid occurred.
CONCLUSION: Vertebrae compression fracture without trauma and pancytopenia can be an early symptom of ALL. Zoledronic acid can be given concurrently with chemotherapy for bone mineralization.