European Spine Journal

, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 2666–2675 | Cite as

Changes in dural sac caliber with standing MRI improve correlation with symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis

  • Yvonne Yan On Lau
  • Ryan Ka Lok Lee
  • James Francis Griffith
  • Carol Lai Yee Chan
  • Sheung Wai Law
  • Kin On Kwok
Original Article



Weight bearing does alter the dimension of lumbar spinal canal, but no study has analyzed its clinical correlation. This study aims to evaluate whether the changes in dural sac cross-sectional area (DSCA) and sagittal anteroposterior (AP) diameter on standing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlate better with clinical symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.


Seventy consecutive patients with neurogenic claudication were prospectively recruited to undergo a 0.25-T MRI examination performed in supine and standing positions. Clinical symptoms including the walking distance, Visual Analogue Score of leg pain, Chinese Oswestry Disability Index, and short form-12 were assessed. DSCA and sagittal AP diameter at the most constricted spinal level on supine and standing positions were measured and correlated with each clinical symptom by Pearson correlation coefficients (r).


DSCA and AP diameter on standing MRI and their % changes from supine to standing showed significant (r = 0.55, 0.53, −0.44, −0.43; p < 0.001) and better correlations than those on supine MRI (r = 0.39, 0.42; p < 0.001) with walking distance. Significant correlations were also found between dural sac calibers on standing MRI and leg pain scores (r = −0.20, r = −0.25; p < 0.05). Patients walking ≤500 m had a significantly smaller DSCA, narrower AP diameter and greater % change in dural sac calibers (p < 0.01) than those walking >500 m. A >30% reduction of DSCA and AP diameter was observed in patients with worse claudication distance (p < 0.05).


DSCA and sagittal AP diameter on standing MRI correlate significantly and better than findings on supine MRI with claudication symptoms. Standing MRI demonstrates dynamic changes of dural sac and provides an additional value to supine MRI in correlating clinical symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.


Standing position Functional magnetic resonance imaging Weight bearing Spinal stenosis Intermittent claudication 



The authors thank Professor De Feng Wang for calculation of dural sac cross-sectional area and radiographers of the Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology at Prince of Wales Hospital for technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

None of the authors has any potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne Yan On Lau
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ryan Ka Lok Lee
    • 2
  • James Francis Griffith
    • 2
  • Carol Lai Yee Chan
    • 1
  • Sheung Wai Law
    • 1
  • Kin On Kwok
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology, Prince of Wales HospitalThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Orthopaedics and TraumatologyTseung Kwan O HospitalHang HauHong Kong

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