AXIAL LOADING OF THE SPINE DURING CT AND MR IN PATIENTS WITH SUSPECTED LUMBAR SPINAL STENOSIS

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Abstract

Purpose:

To evaluate the effect of compressive axial loading in imaging of the lumbar spine in patients with clinically suspected spinal stenosis.

Material and Methods:

A total of 84 patients were examined, 50 with CT (after intrathecal contrast administration) and 34 with MR. First the dural sac cross-sectional area (CSA) was determined with the patient in the supine psoas relaxed position (PRP). Then the CSA was determined during supine axial compression in slight extension (ACE), obtained with a specially designed loading device. A measurement error study was performed.

Results:

A minimum difference in CSA of 15 mm2 between PRP and ACE was found to be significant. In 40/50 (80%) of CT-examined patients and in 26/34 (76%) of MR-examined patients a significant difference in CSA was found. In 25/84 (30%) of the patients there was a significant difference at more than one level.

Conclusion:

For an adequate evaluation of the CSA, CT or MR studies should be performed with axial loading in patients who have symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.

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