J Korean Soc Spine Surg.  2020 Jun;27(2):62-69. 10.4184/jkss.2020.27.2.62.

Comparison of Disc Degeneration between the Cervical and Lumbar Spine

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Medical College of Hallym University, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Republic of Korea
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Medical College of Hallym University, Republic of Korea
  • 4Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Columbia University, The Spine Hospital at NY-Presbyterian/Allen Hospital, USA

Abstract

Study Design: A retrospective radiologic study.
Objectives
To compare disc degeneration between the cervical and lumbar spine and to elucidate the patterns of degeneration according to the corresponding disc levels in the cervical and lumbar spine. Summary of Literature Review: Disc degeneration results from the aging process in the spine. However, the incidence of disc degeneration in the cervical and lumbar spine might differ due to anatomical differences
Materials and Methods
We randomly selected 280 patients by age and sex among 6,168 patients who underwent cervical or lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging combined with whole-spine T2 sagittal images from June 2006 to March 2012. We classified disc degeneration by the modified Matsumoto grading system and the Pfirrmann classification at 11 intervertebral disc levels from C2 to T1 and from L1 to S1.
Results
There was no significant difference in disc degeneration between the cervical and lumbar spine in either grading system. No significant difference was found in the degree of disc degeneration between the lower two disc levels of the cervical spine and the lower two disc levels of the lumbar spine in either system (C5-C6, C6-C7, L4-L5, L5-S1). However, both grading systems showed more severe degeneration in upper two disc levels of the cervical spine than in the upper two disc levels of the lumbar spine (C2-C3, C3-C4, L1-L2, L2- L3).
Conclusions
There was a significant difference in disc degeneration between the upper two disc levels of the cervical and lumbar spine. Adjacent segmental degeneration after fusion surgery might reflect the natural history of the condition, not adjacent segmental problems.

Keyword

Cervical vertebrae; Lumbar vertebrae; Intervertebral disc; Degeneration
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