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Age-related MRI changes at 0.1 T in cervical discs in asymptomatic subjects


The age-dependent occurrence of cervical degenerative changes was studies using 0.1 T MRI in 89 asymptomatic volunteers aged 9 to 63 years. The degree of DD (disc darkening on T2*-weighted images), disc protrusions and prolapses, narrowing of disc spaces, dorsal osteophytes and spinal canal stenosis were assessed. Abnormalities were commoner in older subjects, 62% of being seen in those over 40 years old. In subjects aged less than 30 years there were virtually no abnormalities. DD was the most common abnormality, seen in 10% of discs; 57% DD was in subjects aged over 40. DD at the C5/6 level was the most common finding. No differences in abnormal findings between males and females was observed, nor any statistically significant association between DD and other abnormalities. Thus, DD begins later age in the cervical spine than in the lumbar region. Asymptomatic degenerative changes are common on MRI in the cervical spine after 30 years of age.

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Correspondence to I. J. Lehto.

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Lehto, I.J., Tertti, M.O., Komu, M.E. et al. Age-related MRI changes at 0.1 T in cervical discs in asymptomatic subjects. Neuroradiology 36, 49–53 (1994).

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Key words

  • MRI
  • Cervical spine
  • Intervertebral disc
  • Disc degeneration
  • Ageing