• Eur Spine J · Jan 1997

    Distribution and incidence of degenerative spine changes in patients with a lumbo-sacral transitional vertebra.

    • S Vergauwen, P M Parizel, L van Breusegem, J W Van Goethem, Y Nackaerts, L Van den Hauwe, and A M De Schepper.
    • Department of Radiology, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium.
    • Eur Spine J. 1997 Jan 1;6(3):168-72.

    AbstractThe purpose of this prospective study was to determine the overall incidence and distribution of lumbo-sacral degenerative changes (i.e. disc protrusion or extrusion, facet degeneration, disc degeneration, nerve root canal stenosis and spinal stenosis) in patients with and without a lumbo-sacral transitional vertebra (LSTV). The study population consisted of 350 sequential patients with low back pain and/or sciatica, referred for medical imaging. In all cases CT scans of the lumbo-sacral region were obtained. In 53 subjects (15%) and LSTV was found. There was no difference in overall incidence of degenerative spine changes between the two groups. We did find, however, a different distribution pattern of degenerative changes between patients with and those without an LSTV. Disc protrusion and/or extrusion occurred more often at the level suprajacent to the LSTV than at the same level in patients without LSTV (45.3% vs 30.3%). This was also the case for disc degeneration (52.8% vs 28%), facet degeneration (60.4% vs 42.6%) and nerve root canal stenosis (52.8% vs 27.9%). For spinal canal stenosis there was no statistically significant difference between the two categories. In conclusion, our findings indicate that an LSTV does not in itself constitute a risk factor for degenerative spine changes, but when degeneration occurs, it is more likely to be found at the disc level above the LSTV.

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