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This refers to any congenital growing together - fusion - of the neck vertebrae. The classic constellation of findings is a short webbed neck, a low hairline at the nape of the neck, and limited range of neck motion. It arises during fetal development for unknown reasons.
The importance of recognising Klippel-Feil lies in the fact that there is a strong association of this anomaly with other significant conditions. These include scoliosis, kidney malformations, Sprengel's deformity of the scapula, heart malformations, deafness, and neurological problems (synkinesis - mirror movements).
Children with this syndrome need orthopedic followup to check for the development of scoliosis, and should have a kidney ultrasound to rule out malformations. Because the fusion affects normal flexing of the spinal column, children with Klippel-Feil syndrome need an expert orthopedic opinion about participation in any contact sports.