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Aging Changes in Lumbar Discs and Vertebrae and Their Interaction A 15-year Follow-up Study.

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Aging Changes in Lumbar Discs and Vertebrae and Their Interaction A 15-year Follow-up Study.

Spine J. 2013 Nov 18;

Authors: Videman T, Battié MC, Gibbons LE, Gill K

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Many studies have focused on either the intervertebral disc, as a culprit in back pain problems, or the vertebral body, but very few studies have examined both structures and their relation.
PURPOSE: The goals were to measure the concordant changes in morphology of the discs and vertebrae during 5, 10 and 15-year follow-ups.
STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal study.
PATIENT SAMPLE: Among a general population sample of 232 men that had been scanned in 1992-1993, 105 men were re-examined in 1997-1998 and 2007-2008. Mean age at 15-year follow-up was 63 years. A confirmatory sample with 10-year follow-up was also included.
METHODS: 1.5 Tesla scanners with surface coils were used at baseline and follow-up. Image analysing software was used to measure distances and areas of interest of mid-sagittal and mid-axial spine images.
RESULTS: The disc heights decreased at 5 years by 3.4% (0.4 mm) and 3.3 % (0.4 mm) and at 15 years 8.7 % (1.0 mm) and 11.3 % (1.3 mm) in the upper and the lower discs respectively (p<0.001). While not clear after 5years, vertebra heights increased in mean by 3.1 % (0.8 mm) in the upper lumbar levels and by 4.7 % (1.1 mm) in the lower vertebrae after 15 years (p<0.001). Vertebra height increases were associated with disc narrowing (P=0.001). The mean annual shortening of the lumbar spine L1-S1 block was 0.13 mm/year, which was in line with the mean standing height, which decreased little (174.7 cm at baseline and 174.4 cm at follow-up).
CONCLUSIONS: Discs and vertebrae degenerate or remodel in concert: decreases in disc height appear to be compensated, in part, by accompanying increases in adjacent vertebra heights. The mechanism behind this novel finding and its implications require further study.

PMID: 24262855 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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