Is it appropriate to measure age-related lumbar disc degeneration on the mid-sagittal MR image? A quantitative image study

Xiaojian Hu, Mingjian Chen, Jianjiang Pan, Liang Liang, Yue Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Even though phenotypes of disc degeneration vary on different sagittal magnetic resonance images (MRI), measurements typically are acquired on the mid-sagittal MRI. This study investigated the appropriateness of using the mid-sagittal MRI to measure various phenotypes of age-related disc degeneration. Methods: Lumbar spine MRIs of 66 subjects (mean age 50.3 years, standard deviation 16.5 years, range 22–84 years) were studied. An image analysis program Spine Explorer was used to obtain quantitative measurements for disc height, bulging, and signal on para- and mid-sagittal T2-weighted MRIs. Measurements on para- and mid-sagittal MRIs and their associations with age were compared. Results: Measurements of disc height, signal, and posterior disc bulging acquired on the mid-sagittal MRI were greater than those on the para-sagittal MRIs. Disc height measurements were not linearly associated with age. Greater age was correlated with greater anterior (r = 0.45, P < 0.001) and posterior (r = 0.33, P < 0.01) bulging on para-sagittal MRIs, but not posterior disc bulging on the mid-sagittal MRI (r = − 0.10, P > 0.05). Disc signal intensity measurements on the mid-sagittal MRI had stronger correlations with age than those on para-sagittal MRIs. Mean and standard deviation of disc signal intensity acquired on the mid-sagittal MRI had the strongest correlations with age among all measures of disc degeneration studied (r = − 0.50, − 0.67, respectively, P < 0.001 for both). Conclusions: Disc signal measurements acquired on the mid-sagittal MRI were reliable and had strong correlations with age and thus can be used as an appropriate measure of disc degeneration. Disc bulging had better be measured on para-sagittal MRIs. Although severe disc narrowing clearly is a sign of severe disc degeneration, disc height was not linearly associated with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1081
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Disc bulging
  • Disc degeneration
  • Disc height
  • Disc signal intensity
  • MR quantitative measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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