European Spine Journal

, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp 331–335 | Cite as

Lumbar muscle fiber size and type distribution in normal subjects

  • J. Rantanen
  • A. Rissanen
  • H. Kalimo
Original Articles


The macroanatomy of the clinically important lumbar muscles has recently been investigated in detail, whereas the information about their microscopic structure in healthy persons is still scanty. In this study we have analysed lumbar multifidus and erector spinae muscles from 21 previously healthy persons who died suddenly and were of working age (range 23–65 years, mean 44.7 years). The microscopic structure of myofibers within the lumbar muscles was found to be regionally uniform, which renders in vivo biopsies representative of the whole muscle bulk. Somewhat surprisingly, age did not significantly influence fiber type composition, fiber size, or proportion of nonmuscular tissue. There was a slight predominance of type 1 fibers. The size of type 1 fibers (mean lesser diameter 54.0 μm) corresponded to that in other skeletal muscles, with no significant sex difference (55.1/51.6 μm male/female). Selective type 2 fiber atrophy was a common finding in both sexes, but significantly less so in men (mean diameter 38.8/28.4 μm male/female). We suggest that the values of fiber type proportions and fiber size in the deep multifidus presented in this study can be used as reference values for healthy adults in the present society with limited physical activity.

Key words

Human lumbar muscle Muscle biopsy Myofiber 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bogduk N (1980) A reappraisal of the anatomy of the human erector spinae. J Anat 131:525–540PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dubowitz V (1985) Muscle biopsy: a practical approach, 2nd edn. Balliere Tindall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ford D, Bagnall KM, McFadden KD, Greenhill B, Raso J (1983) Analysis of vertebral muscle obtained during surgery for correction of a lumbar disc disorder. Acta Anat (Basel) 116:152–157Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Henriksson KG (1979) ‘Semin-open’ muscle biopsy technique: a simple outpatient procedure. Acta Neurol Scand 59:317–323PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jennekens FGI, Tomlinson BE, Walton JN (1971) Data on the distribution of fibre types in five human limb muscles. J Neurol Sci 14:245–257PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Johnson MA, Polgar J, Weightman D, Appleton D (1973) Data on the distribution of fibre types in thirty-six human muscles. An autopsy study. J Neurol Sci 18:111–129PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kalimo H, Rantanen J, Viljanen T, Einola S (1989) Lumbar muscles: anatomy and function (a review). Ann Med 21:353–359PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lexell J, Downham D (1992) What is the effect of ageing on type 2 muscle fibers. J Neurol Sci 107:250–251PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lexell J, Henriksson-Larsen K, Winblad B, Sjöström M (1983) Distribution of different fiber types in human skeletal muscle: effects of aging studied in whole muscle cross sections Muscle Nerve 6:588–595PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Macintosh JE, Bogduk N (1987) The morphology of the lumbar erector spinae. Spine 12:658–668PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Macintosh JE, Valencia F, Bogduk N, Munro RR (1986) The morphology of the human lumbar multifidus. Clin Biomech 1 205–213Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mattila M, Hurme M, Alaranta H et al (1986) The multifidus muscle in patients with lumbar disc herniation. Spine 11: 732–738PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Moore MJ, Rebeiz JJ, Holden H, Adams RD (1971) Biometric analysis of normal skeletal muscle. Acta Neuropathol (Berl) 19:51–69Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Polgar J, Johnson MA, Weightman D, Appleton D (1973) Data on fibre size in thirty-six human muscles. An autopsy study. J Neurol Sci 19:307–318PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Rantanen J, Hurme M, Falck B et al. (1993) The lumbar multifidus muscle five years after operation for a lumbar intervertebral disc herniation. Spine 18:568–574PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Shorey CD, Cleland KW (1983) Problems associated with the morphometric measurement of transverse muscle fibers. 1. Analysis of frozen sections. Anat Rec 207:523–531PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Shorey CD, Cleland KW (1988) Morphometric analysis of frozen transverse sections of human skeletal muscle taken post-mortem. Acta Anat 131:30–34PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Song SK, Shimada N, Anderson PJ (1963) Orthogonal diameters in the analysis of muscle fibre size and form. Nature 200:1220–1221PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Susheela AK, Walton JN (1969) Note on the distribution of histochemical fibre types in some normal human muscles. A study on autopsy material. J Neurol Sci 8:201–207PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Thorstensson A, Carlsson H (1987) Fibre types in human lumbar back muscles. Acta Physiol Scand 131:195–202PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Zhu XZ, Parniapour M, Nordin M, Kahanovitz N (1989) Histochemistry and morphology of erector spinae muscle in lumbar disc herniation. Spine 14:391–397PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Rantanen
    • 1
  • A. Rissanen
    • 2
  • H. Kalimo
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Turku and Turku University Central HospitalTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Invalid Foundation HospitalHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of PathologyUniversity of Turku and Turku University Central HospitalTurkuFinland

Personalised recommendations