The Prevalence of Sacroiliac Joint Degeneration in Asymptomatic Adults

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Abstract

Background:

Degenerative changes of the sacroiliac joint have been implicated as a cause of lower back pain in adults. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of sacroiliac joint degeneration in asymptomatic patients.

Methods:

Five hundred consecutive pelvic computed tomography (CT) scans, made at a tertiary-care medical center, of patients with no history of pain in the lower back or pelvic girdle were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed for degenerative changes of the sacroiliac joint. After exclusion criteria were applied, 373 CT scans (746 sacroiliac joints) were evaluated for degenerative changes. Regression analysis was used to determine the association between age and the degree of sacroiliac joint degeneration.

Results:

The prevalence of sacroiliac joint degeneration was 65.1%, with substantial degeneration occurring in 30.5% of asymptomatic subjects. The prevalence steadily increased with age, with 91% of subjects in the ninth decade of life displaying degenerative changes.

Conclusions:

Radiographic evidence of sacroiliac joint degeneration is highly prevalent in the asymptomatic population and is associated with age. Caution must be exercised when attributing lower back or pelvic girdle pain to sacroiliac joint degeneration seen on imaging.

Level of Evidence:

Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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