Skeletal Radiology

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 63–73 | Cite as

Juvenile spondylolysis: a comparative analysis of CT, SPECT and MRI

  • R. S. D. CampbellEmail author
  • A. J. Grainger
  • I. G. Hide
  • S. Papastefanou
  • C. G. Greenough
Scientific Article



To evaluate whether MRI correlates with CT and SPECT imaging for the diagnosis of juvenile spondylolysis, and to determine whether MRI can be used as an exclusive image modality.

Design and patients

Juveniles and young adults with a history of extension low back pain were evaluated by MRI, CT and SPECT imaging. All images were reviewed blindly. Correlative analyses included CT vs MRI for morphological grading and SPECT vs MRI for functional grading. Finally, an overall grading system compared MRI vs CT and SPECT combined. Statistical analysis was performed using the kappa statistic.


Seventy-two patients (mean age 16 years) were recruited. Forty pars defects were identified in 22 patients (31%), of which 25 were chronic non-union, five acute complete defects and ten acute incomplete fractures. Kappa scores demonstrated a high level of agreement for all comparative analyses. MRI vs SPECT (kappa: 0.794), MRI vs CT (kappa: 0.829) and MRI vs CT/SPECT (kappa: 0.786). The main causes of discrepancy were between MRI and SPECT for the diagnosis of stress reaction in the absence of overt fracture, and distinguishing incomplete fractures from intact pars or complete defects.


MRI can be used as an effective and reliable first-line image modality for diagnosis of juvenile spondylolysis. However, localised CT is recommended as a supplementary examination in selected cases as a baseline for assessment of healing and for evaluation of indeterminate cases.


Spondylolysis Pars interarticularis Magnetic resonance imaging Computed tomography Single photon emission computed tomography 



The authors would like to gratefully thank all the radiography staff in MRI and CT and the technicians in nuclear medicine for their enduring support during this study. Many thanks


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Copyright information

© ISS 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. S. D. Campbell
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. J. Grainger
    • 2
  • I. G. Hide
    • 3
  • S. Papastefanou
    • 4
  • C. G. Greenough
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyRoyal Liverpool University HospitalLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyLeeds General InfirmaryLeedsUK
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyFreeman HospitalNewcastle upon TyneUK
  4. 4.Department RadiologyJames Cook University HospitalMiddlesbroughUK
  5. 5.Department of Trauma and OrthopaedicsJames Cook University HospitalMiddlesbroughUK

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