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The sagittal anatomy of the sacrum among young adults, infants, and spondylolisthesis patients

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The anatomic pelvic parameter "incidence" – the angle between the line perpendicular to the middle of the sacral plate and the line joining the middle of the sacral plate to the center of the bicoxo-femoral axis – has been shown to be strongly correlated with the sacral slope and lumbar lordosis, and ensures the individual an economical standing position. It is important for determining the sagittal curve of the spine. The angle of incidence has also been shown to depend partly on the sagittal anatomy of sacrum, which is established in childhood while learning to stand and walk. The purpose of this study was (1) to define the relationship between the sacrum and the angle of incidence, and (2) to compare these parameters in three populations: young adults, infants before walking, and patients with spondylolisthesis. Forty-four normal young adults, 32 infants not yet walking and 39 patients with spondylolisthesis due to isthmic spondylolysis underwent a sagittal full-spine radiography. A graphic table and the software for bidimensional study of the sacrum developed by J. Hecquet were used to determine various anatomic and positional parameters. Comparison tests of means, and multiple and partial correlation tests were used. A study of the reliability of the measurements using factorial plan methods was performed. The sagittal anatomic parameters of the sacrum were found to have a close relationship with the pelvic parameter of incidence angle, and therefore with the sagittal balance of the spine. The anatomy of the sacrum in spondylolisthesis patients is particular in that some features are much like those of young infants, but it is more curved and the incidence angle is significantly larger. There is a close relationship between angle of incidence and the slip of spondylolisthesis. All the parameters of young infants are significantly smaller than those of adults. It can be concluded that the sagittal anatomy of the sacrum plays a key role in spinal sagittal balance. The sacral bone is an integral a part of the pelvis and constitutes the undistorted part of the spinal curves. Organization of sagittal curves during growth can be followed up by looking at the sacrum. The sacrum in the spondylolisthesis group differs from the normal, and the greater angle of incidence and sacral slope in this group could predispose to vertebral slip.

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Marty, C., Boisaubert, B., Descamps, H. et al. The sagittal anatomy of the sacrum among young adults, infants, and spondylolisthesis patients. Eur Spine J 11, 119–125 (2002).

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