Normative Measurements of L1–S1 Segmental Angulation, Disk Space Height, and Neuroforaminal Dimensions Using Computed Tomography

Neurosurgery 94:813–827, 2024

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To establish normative anatomic measurements of lumbar segmental angulation (SA) and disk space height (DSH) in relation to neuroforaminal dimensions (NFDs), and to uncover the influence of patient demographic and anthropometric characteristics on SA, DSH, and NFDs.

METHODS: NFDs, SA, and anterior, middle, and posterior DSH were measured using computed tomography of 969 patients. NFDs were defined as sagittal anterior-to-posterior width, foraminal height, and area. Statistical analyses were performed to assess associations among SA, DSH, NFDs, and patient height, weight, body mass index, sex, and ethnicity.

RESULTS: SA and DSH measurements increased moving caudally from L1 to S1. Foraminal width decreased moving caudally from L1 to S1. Foraminal height and area demonstrated unimodal distribution patterns with the largest values clustered at L2–L3 on the right side and L3–L4 on the left. Significant differences in SA, DSH, and NFD measurements were observed based on the disk level. Inconsistent, marginal NFD differences were observed based on laterality. Across all disk levels, only weak-to-moderate correlations were observed between SA and DSH in relation to NFDs. Patient height, weight, and body mass index were only weakly associated with SA, DSH, and NFDs. Based on patient sex, significant differences were observed for SA, DSH, and NFD measurements from L1 to S1, with males demonstrating consistently larger values compared with females. Based on patient race and ethnicity, significant differences in SA and NFD measurements were observed from L1 to S1.

CONCLUSION: This study describes 48 450 normative measurements of L1–S1 SA, DSH, and NFDs. These measurements serve as representative models of normal anatomic dimensions necessary for several applications including surgical planning and diagnosis of foraminal stenosis. Normative values of SA and DSH are not moderately or strongly associated with NFDs. SA, DSH, and NFDs are influenced by sex and ethnicity, but are not strongly or moderately influenced by patient anthropometric factors.