Osteoporosis International

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 91–96 | Cite as

Relationship between gender, bone mineral density, and disc degeneration in the lumbar spine: a study in elderly subjects using an eight-level MRI-based disc degeneration grading system

  • Y.-X. J. Wang
  • J. F. Griffith
  • H. T. Ma
  • A. W. L. Kwok
  • J. C. S. Leung
  • D. K. W. Yeung
  • A. T. Ahuja
  • P. C. Leung
Original Article



The study cohort comprised 196 females and 163 males. Lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were acquired. Females had more severe disc degeneration than males. Lumbar spine lower BMD was associated with less severe disc degeneration. Lumbar disc spaces were more likely to be narrower when vertebral BMD was higher.


The purpose of this paper is to study the relationship between gender, BMD, and disc degeneration in the lumbar spine.


The study cohort comprised 196 females and 163 males (age range 67–89 years) with no age difference between the two groups. Lumbar spine BMD was measured with dual X-ray densitometry, and MRI was acquired at 1.5 T. A subgroup of 48 males had additional lumbar vertebral quantitative computerized tomography densitometry. Lumbar disc degeneration was assessed using a MRI-based eight-level grading system.


Female subjects had more severe disc degeneration than male subjects. After removing age effect, a positive trend was observed between T-score and severity of lumbar disc degeneration. This was significant in female subjects while not significant in male subjects. Lumbar disc spaces were more likely to be narrowed when vertebral BMD was higher. These observations were more significant in the midlumbar region (L3/4 and L4/5) and less so at the thoracolumbar junction.


Female subjects tended to have slightly more severe lumbar disc degeneration than male subjects. Lower lumbar spine BMD was associated with less severe disc degeneration.


Bone mineral density Degeneration Intervertebral disc Lumbar spine Osteopenia Osteoporosis 


Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y.-X. J. Wang
    • 1
  • J. F. Griffith
    • 1
  • H. T. Ma
    • 2
  • A. W. L. Kwok
    • 2
  • J. C. S. Leung
    • 2
  • D. K. W. Yeung
    • 1
  • A. T. Ahuja
    • 1
  • P. C. Leung
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Organ Imaging, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Jockey Club Centre for Osteoporosis Care and Control, School of Public Health, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinPeople’s Republic of China

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