Archives of Osteoporosis

, 13:104 | Cite as

Plain radiograghs of lumbar spine in patients with low back pain

  • Ngozi R. NjezeEmail author
  • Salome N. Ezeofor
  • Olanike R. Agwu-Umahi
Original Article



Low back pain (LBP) is a common presenting complaint in our hospital in Enugu Nigeria. Three hundred thirty-three radiographs of patients with LBP were studied. A lot of them had bony outgrowths (osteophytes) on the spine. Plain radiograph of the spine is useful in studying these patients’ condition.


Low back pain (LBP) is one of the common symptoms which bring patients to hospital and ultimately to radiology department for medical assistance. Plain radiographs of lumbar spine are usually the initial imaging tools requested by clinicians. The objective of this study is to evaluate commonest finding in patients with LBP to guide physicians for improved management.


This work was a retrospective study. Plain films of these patients with LBP at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, were assessed by two radiologists. Findings documented and analyzed using IBM’S SPSS 22. Association was determined using chi-square with level of significance, p < 0.05.


Total number of radiographs reviewed was 333. One hundred and eighty-three (55.0%) patients were females. Age ranged from 14 to 101 years. Mean age of 53.4 ± 15.9 years. Disc space was normal in majority (55.3%, 184/333) of patients; narrowing was observed in most others (43.2%, 144/333), about half of the narrowing occurring along with vacuum phenomenon. Osteophytes were commonest finding in a total of 284/333 (85.3%) existing alone or in combination with other findings. Proportion of patients with osteophytes was highest in sixth to eighth decade of life (98.8% of 61–80 age group), followed by 41–60 age group (92.9%). This association between age group and the presence of osteophytes was statistically significant (p < 0.000). Anterior vertebral body was affected in 85.0% (284/333) of patients.


Osteophytes are common radiologic features in LBP. Anterior vertebral body is most affected. It is commoner in the older age group. Plain radiograph is an invaluable imaging tool in the management of LBP in this part of the world.


Low back pain Lumbar spine Osteophytes Enugu Nigeria Plain film findings 


Compliance with ethical standards

We obtained ethical clearance from the ethical committee of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu Nigeria.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

11657_2018_477_MOESM1_ESM.docx (269 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 268 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ngozi R. Njeze
    • 1
    Email author
  • Salome N. Ezeofor
    • 1
  • Olanike R. Agwu-Umahi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Radiation MedicineUniversity of Nigeria Medical SchoolNsukkaNigeria
  2. 2.Department of Community MedicineUniversity of Nigeria Medical SchoolNsukkaNigeria

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