Saturday, August 2, 2008


It is believed lumbar degeneration begins in the disc, where desiccation and collapse lead to instability and compensatory facet arthrosis.
Eubanks JD et al (2007) explored the contrary contention that facet degeneration precedes disc degeneration by examining 647 skeletal lumbar spines in a postmortem study. Using facet osteophytosis as a measure of facet degeneration and vertebral rim osteophytosis as a measure of disc degeneration
1) Specimens younger than 30 years of age had a higher prevalence of facet osteophytosis compared with vertebral rim osteophotosis at L1-L2 and L2-L3.
2) Specimens aged 30 to 39 years showed more facet osteophytosis than vertebral rim osteophytosis at L4-L5.
3) Specimens older than 40 years, however, showed more vertebral rim osteophytosis compared with facet osteophytosis at all levels except L4-L5 and L5-S1.
This study suggested:
Facet osteophytosis appears early in the degenerative process, preceding vertebral rim osteophytosis of degenerating intervertebral discs. However, once facets begin deteriorating with age, vertebral rim osteophytosis overtakes continued facet osteophytosis.
These data challenge the belief that facet osteophytosis follows vertebral rim osteophytosis; rather, it appears vertebral rim osteophytosis progresses more rapidly in later years, but facet osteophotosis occurs early, predominating in younger individuals.

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