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Pedicle marrow signal intensity changes in the lumbar spine: a manifestation of facet degenerative joint disease

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Abstract 

Objective. Signal intensity changes in lumbar pedicles, similar to those described in vertebral body endplates adjacent to degenerated discs, have been described as an ancillary sign of spondylolysis on MRI. The purpose of this study was to determine whether pedicle marrow signal intensity changes also occur in association with facet degenerative joint disease.

Design. Eighty-nine lumbar spine MRI examinations without spondylolysis were reviewed for marrow signal intensity changes in pedicles and vertebral bodies as well as for facet degenerative joint disease.

Results. Five percent (46/890) of lumbar pedicles in 23 patients had marrow signal intensity changes. Ninety-one percent (42/46) of the abnormal pedicles had adjacent degenerative joint disease of the facets, while only 21% (189/890) of normal pedicles had adjacent facet degenerative joint disease (p<0.001). Eighty-nine percent (41/46) of the pedicles with marrow signal intensity changes had adjacent degenerative disc disease.

Conclusions. Pedicle marrow signal intensity changes are not a specific sign of spondylolysis; they are commonly seen with adjacent facet degenerative joint disease in the absence of spondylolysis. Pedicle marrow signal intensity changes are probably a response to abnormal stresses related to abnormal motion or loading caused by the degenerative changes in the spinal segment.

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Received: 2 May 2000 Revision requested: 18 July 2000 Revision received: 25 August 2000 Accepted: 1 September 2000

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Morrison, J., Kaplan, P., Dussault, R. et al. Pedicle marrow signal intensity changes in the lumbar spine: a manifestation of facet degenerative joint disease. Skeletal Radiol 29, 703–707 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s002560000291

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s002560000291

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