, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 454-459

Investigation of vertebral ”end plate sclerosis”

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Abstract. 

Objective:

To evaluate the association between vertebral ”end plate sclerosis” and neck pain.

Design:

A retrospective study was carried out of lateral cervical spine radiographs with a Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS).

Patients:

Two hundred patients’ files were randomly assessed, comprising four equal groups, A to D. The mean ages of the patients were 62±7.4 years, 61±7.5 years, 40±5.6 years and 23±5.6 years respectively. In group A, all patients had symptoms of neck pain and a radiographic diagnosis of ”end plate sclerosis” of the cervical spine. In groups B to D, asymptomatic patients were recruited and their age groups were 50–69, 30–49 and 10–29 years respectively. Using the PACS, the radiographic density and the sagittal diameter, thickness and area of the end plates at the C5 level were measured.

Results and conclusions:

No significant differences were found in the radiographic density of the end plates either between the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups (groups A and B), or between different age groups (groups B, C and D). A significant increase in end plate area and thickness was found, however, in both group B (P<0.005) and group C (P<0.01) in comparison with group D. This indicates that the extent of end plate sclerosis increases with age. Our results suggest that the radiographic density of cervical vertebral end plates correlates neither with neck pain nor with increasing age. The radiological sign of ”end plate sclerosis” may be over-reported, further limiting its value in the assessment of patients with cervical spondylosis.

Received: 31 August 1999 Revision requested: 5 November 1999 Revision received: 19 March 2001 Accepted: 27 March 2001