Association between facet tropism and lumbar degenerative disc disease

Alexandre Barros Costa Thiago Mattar Paulo Roberto Appolonio Caio Yoshino Adriano Massayuki Yonezaki Luciano Miller Reis Rodrigues About the authors

OBJECTIVE: To document the presence of disc degeneration and facet tropism in patients with chronic low back pain and its distribution by sex and age. We also evaluated the association between facet tropism and lumbar disc degeneration and the orientation of the facets according to sex and age. METHODS: Retrospective study of MRIs obtained from 288 patients (N = 288, 118 men and 170 women) with mean age of 53.33 years, and chronic low back pain. The images were evaluated by two physicians specialized in surgery of the spine to assess and quantify the orientation of the facets, facet tropism and degree of disc degeneration at L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1. We analyzed the association between facet tropism and degenerative disc disease, and association with sex and age. RESULTS: It is observed that 85.8% of the disks have Pfirrmann rating greater or equal to Type III. Concerning the degree of disc degeneration, there was no difference between sexes and increased with increasing age. There was an increase in the degree of disc degeneration with increasing degree of facet tropism. CONCLUSION: Most of the intervertebral discs analyzed in patients with chronic low back pain are degenerate and the degree of degeneration increases with age. The degree of facet tropism increases with age and is related to the degree of disc degeneration.

Spine; Intervertebral disc; Low back pain; Tropism; Retrospective studies

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