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Vol. XXXIV, No. 3 (September 2020)

MRI spectrum and prevalence of lumbar spinal degenerative disease in patients with non-traumatic low back pain



Background: Low back pain (LBP) is a frequent cause of global disability and activity limitation. In the majority of cases, LBP is nonspecific, yet diagnostic confirmation is required to rule out serious underlying pathologies such as infection, tumour, fracture or degenerative disease. It can be done by a number of imaging techniques. Of all available techniques, MRI is currently the imaging modality of choice owing to lack of radiation, multiplanar reformation capabilities and high contrast resolution.

Objectives: To determine various MRI patterns and the common sites of spinal degenerative lesions among patients with LBP.

Method: This study was conducted on 622 patients suffering from non-traumatic LBP, referred for MRI of the lumbar spine. MRI database of the study population were analysed using axial T2-weighted, sagittal STIR, T1and T2-weighted and coronal STIR images. After excluding patients with h/o prior surgery and MR findings suggesting infective or neoplastic etiologies, 598 patients constituted the sample size of our study.

Results: A review of 598 patients with LBP revealed that degenerative changes in intervertebral disc were the most common abnormality detected. Among these, Disc bulge was the most common abnormality followed by disc desiccation, protrusion, extrusion, HIZ/annular tear, reduced IVD space and Schmorl’s nodes. Other non- disc degenerative findings were Modic endplate changes, facet joint arthropathy, osteophytes, Spinal canal stenosis and Ligamentum Flavum hypertrophy.

Conclusions: Results reported the common occurrence of lumbar disc degenerative disease in patients with low backache. Research efforts should attempt to trim down risk factors and perk up the quality of life.