Are Modic Changes Able to Help Us in Our Clinical Practice? A Study of the Modic Changes in Young Adults During Working Age

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Abstract

Study Design:

Modic changes [vertebral endplate spinal changes (VESC)] have been related to degenerative disk disease, and in past decades it was thought that their presence justified the surgical treatment, in particular spinal fusion.

Objective:

The aim of the present study is to investigate its prevalence and features in a population of young workers suffering from low back pain, and explore the eventual relationship with the treatment applied in each case.

Background Data:

We conducted a retrospectively review of 450 magnetic resonance images from our hospital, in patients with low back pain or sciatica and age below 40.

Materials and Methods:

Age, sex, symptoms predominance, concurrence with other spine disease, VESC type, evolution, level/s of involvement and placement, affected disk location and extent of the disease, disk height, and status of the endplate were recorded. The applied treatment was divided in groups according to the degree of invasiveness of the procedure.

Results:

Prevalence of VESC was 13.05% predominant in patients over 30 years, and 100% associated to disk degenerative changes. Most frequent features were: type I (54%), lower lumbar region (98%), along with a decreased disk height (68%), and distortion of the disk endplates (98%, P<0.01). The patients with VESC presented a favorable outcome with conservative treatment, but were more frequently associated with invasive treatment, compared with non-VESC patients (P<0.024).

Conclusions:

VESC prevalence increases with age, underlying the degenerative causative etiology. Surgical indication should not be stated on the basis of the VESC findings alone, the main factor for indicating surgery depends more on other associated degenerative spinal changes.

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