Endplate defects, not the severity of spinal stenosis, contribute to low back pain in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis

The Spine Journal 22 (2022) 370−378

It is controversial whether lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) itself contributes to low back pain (LBP). Lower truncal skeletal muscle mass, spinopelvic malalignment, intervertebral disc degeneration, and endplate abnormalities are thought to be related to LBP. However, whether these factors cause LBP in patients with LSS is unclear.PURPOSE: To identify factors associated with LBP in patients with LSS.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Cross-sectional design.

PATIENT SAMPLE: A total of 260 patients (119 men and 141 women, average age 72.8 years) with neurogenic claudication caused by LSS, as confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Ratings of LBP, buttock and leg pain, and numbness on a numerical rating scale (NRS), 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) scores, muscle mass measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and radiographic measurements including slippage and lumbopelvic alignment. The severity of LSS, endplate defects, Modic endplate changes, intervertebral disc degeneration, and facet joint osteoarthritis were assessed on MRI.

METHODS: The presence of LBP was defined as an NRS score ≥3. The demographic data, patient-reported outcomes, and radiological and MRI findings were compared between patients with and without LBP. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify the factors that were independently associated with the presence of LBP.

RESULTS: There were significant differences between patients with and without LBP for buttock and leg pain and numbness on the NRS, general health on the SF-36, presence of endplate defects, presence of Modic changes, disc degeneration grading, and disc height grading (all p < .05). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed significant associations between LBP and diabetes (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.07−5.53), buttock and leg numbness on the NRS (OR 1.34; 95% CI 1.17−1.52), general health on the SF-36 (OR 0.97; 95% CI 0.95−0.99), and the presence of erosive endplate defects (OR 3.04; 95% CI 1.51−6.11) (all p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that LBP in patients with LSS should be carefully assessed not only for spinal stenosis but also clinical factors and endplate defects.

Abnormal Findings on Magnetic Resonance Images of the Cervical Spines in 1211 Asymptomatic Subjects

Abnormal Findings on Magnetic Resonance Images of the Cervical Spines in 1211 Asymptomatic Subjects-1

Spine 2015;40:392–398

Study Design. Cross-sectional study.

Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and distribution of abnormal fi ndings on cervical spine magnetic resonance image (MRI).

Summary of Background Data. Neurological symptoms and abnormal findings on MR images are keys to diagnose the spinal diseases. To determine the significance of MRI abnormalities, we must take into account the (1) frequency and (2) spectrum of structural abnormalities, which may be asymptomatic. However, no large-scale study has documented abnormal fi ndings of the cervical spine on MR image in asymptomatic subjects.

Methods. MR images were analyzed for the anteroposterior spinal cord diameter, disc bulging diameter, and axial cross-sectional area of the spinal cord in 1211 healthy volunteers. The age of healthy volunteers prospectively enrolled in this study ranged from 20 to 70 years, with approximately 100 individuals per decade, per sex. These data were used to determine the spectrum and degree of disc bulging, spinal cord compression (SCC), and increased signal intensity changes in the spinal cord.

Results. Most subjects presented with disc bulging (87.6%), which signifi cantly increased with age in terms of frequency, severity,and number of levels. Even most subjects in their 20s had bulging discs, with 73.3% and 78.0% of males and females, respectively. In contrast, few asymptomatic subjects were diagnosed with SCC (5.3%) or increased signal intensity (2.3%). These numbers increased with age, particularly after age 50 years. SCC mainly involved 1 level (58%) or 2 levels (38%), and predominantly occurred at C5– C6 (41%) and C6–C7 (27%).

Conclusion. Disc bulging was frequently observed in asymptomatic subjects, even including those in their 20s. The number of patients with minor disc bulging increased from age 20 to 50 years. In contrast, the frequency of SCC and increased signal intensity increased after age 50 years, and this was accompanied by increased severity of disc bulging.

Level of Evidence: 2

Vertebral endplate change as a feature of intervertebral disc degeneration: a heritability study

Vertebral endplate change as a feature of intervertebral disc degeneration- a heritability study

Eur Spine J (2014) 23:1856–1862

Purpose: To study the prevalence of vertebral endplate or Modic change (MC), the progression of MC over a 10-year follow-up and the heritability of MC prevalence in a classical twin study.

Methods: The study population was recruited from TwinsUK register between 1996 and 2000. MC was evaluated from T2-weighted lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at baseline and follow-up. Heritability was estimated using variance components analysis. Baseline MRI with appropriate data was available for 831 twins and follow-up for 436 twins. In total, both baseline and followup imaging were available for 347 twins.

Results: Mean age of the study population was 54.1 years (range 45.7–62.5) and females comprised 96 %. The prevalence of MC at baseline was 32.1 % and at follow-up 48.4 %. The incidence of MC during the 10-year follow-up was 21.6 % and was highest at L4–5 and L5–S1. MC regressed totally in 3.5 % of twins. Twins with prevalent MC at baseline demonstrated a higher incidence of MC at upper lumbar levels during follow-up compared to twins without baseline MC (p = 0.009). Probandwise concordance rates were higher in monozygotic (0.56) than dizygotic twin pairs (0.39) suggestive of familial influence. Heritability of MC prevalence was estimated at 30 (16–43) %.

Conclusions: The results suggest that MC is generally progressive in middle age and furthermore is heritable. Since MC is associated with disc degeneration, which is also heritable, further work on potential shared mechanisms is needed.

Motion characteristics of the vertebral segments with lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis in elderly patients

Motion characteristics of the vertebral segments with lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis in elderly patients

Eur Spine J (2013) 22:425–431

Although some studies have reported on the kinematics of the lumbar segments with degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS), few data have been reported on the in vivo 6 degree-of-freedom kinematics of different anatomical structures of the diseased levels under physiological loading conditions. This research is to study the in vivo motion characteristics of the lumbar vertebral segments with L4 DS during weight-bearing activities.

Methods Nine asymptomatic volunteers (mean age 54.4) and 9 patients with L4 DS (mean age 73.4) were included. Vertebral kinematics was obtained using a combined MRI/ CT and dual fluoroscopic imaging technique. During functional postures (supine, standing upright, flexion, and extension), disc heights, vertebral motion patterns and instability were compared between the two groups.

Results Although anterior disc heights were smaller in the DS group than in the normal group, the differences were only significant at standing upright. Posterior disc heights were significantly smaller in DS group than in the normal group under all postures. Different vertebral motion patterns were observed in the DS group, especially in the left–right and cranial–caudal directions during flexion and extension of the body. However, the range of motions of the both groups were much less than the reported criteria of lumbar spinal instability.

Conclusion The study showed that lumbar vertebra with DS has disordered motion patterns. DS did not necessary result in vertebral instability. A restabilization process may have occurred and surgical treatment should be planned accordingly.

Microdiscectomy Improves Pain-Associated Depression, Somatic Anxiety, and Mental Well- Being in Patients With Herniated Lumbar Disc

Neurosurgery 70:306–311, 2012 DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e3182302ec3

Emotional distress and depression are common psychological disturbances associated with low-back and leg pain. The effects of lumbar discectomy on pain, disability, and physical quality of life are well described. The effects of discectomy on emotional distress and mental well-being are less well understood.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of microdiscectomy on depression, somatization, and mental well-being in patients with herniated lumbar discs.

METHODS: Patients undergoing surgical discectomy for single-level, herniated lumbar disc were prospectively evaluated preoperatively, and at 6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Back and leg pain, depression, somatic perception, and mental well-being were assessed.

RESULTS: One hundred patients were enrolled. All were available for 1-year follow-up. Preoperatively, the visual analog scale for low-back pain (BP-VAS), visual analog scale for leg pain (LP-VAS), Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (ZUNG), Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ), and Medical Outcomes Short Form-36 mental component summary scale (SF-36-MCS) were 6.3 6 2.5, 6.3 6 2.5, 19 6 11, 9 6 7, and 4 6 14. BP-VAS and LP-VAS significantly improved by 6 weeks. Significant improvement in SF-36-MCS was observed by 6 weeks postoperatively, improvement in MSPQ score was observed 3 months postoperatively, and improvement in the ZUNG depression score was observed 12 months postoperatively. No statistical difference occurred during the remainder of follow-up for any outcome measured once improvement reached statistical significance. Eighteen patients were somatized preoperatively, 67% of which were nonsomatized 1 year postoperatively. Ten patients were clinically depressed preoperatively, 70% of which were nondepressed 1 year postoperatively. Improvement in SF-36-MCS, ZUNG, and MSPQ correlated (P , .001) with improvement in BP-VAS and LP-VAS.

CONCLUSION: The majority of patients somatized or depressed preoperatively returned to good mental well-being postoperatively. Improvement in pain and overall mental wellbeing was seen immediately after discectomy. Improvement in somatic anxiety and depression occurred months later. Microdiscectomy significantly improves pain-associated depression, somatic anxiety, and mental well-being in patients with herniated lumbar disc.

Cross-sectional magnetic resonance imaging study of lumbar disc degeneration in 200 healthy individuals

J Neurosurg Spine 11:501–507, 2009. (DOI: 10.3171/2009.5.SPINE08675)

Object. The current cross-sectional observational MR imaging study aimed to investigate the prevalence and risk factors of lumbar disc degeneration in a healthy population and to establish the baseline data for a prospective longitudinal study.

Methods. Two hundred healthy volunteers participated in this study after providing informed consent. The status of lumbar disc degeneration was assessed by 3 independent observers, who used sagittal T2-weighted MR imaging. Demographic data collected included age, sex, body mass index, episode(s) of low-back pain, smoking status, hours of standing and sitting, and Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire scores. There were 68 men and 132 women whose mean age was 39.7 years (range 30–55 years). Eighty-two individuals (41%) were smokers, and the Roland- Morris Disability Questionnaire scores were averaged to 0.6/24.

Results. The prevalence of disc degeneration was 7.0% in L1–2, 12.0% in L2–3, 15.5% in L3–4, 49.5% in L4–5, and 53.0% in L5–S1. A herniated disc was observed at the corresponding levels in 0.5, 3.5, 6.5, 25.0, and 35.0% of cases respectively. Spondylolisthesis was observed in < 3% of this population. Multiple logistic regression analysis demonstrated that age and hours sitting were significantly related to L4–5 disc herniation. Episode of low-back pain, smoking status, body mass index, and hours standing did not affect the prevalence of disc degeneration.

Conclusions. The current study established the baseline data of lumbar disc degeneration in a 30- to 55-year-old healthy population for a prospective longitudinal study. Hours spent sitting significantly increased the prevalence of disc herniation, but episode of low-back pain, smoking status, obesity, and standing hours were not significant risk factors.

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