All structures of the spine, including the spinal canal, change continuously with age. The purpose of this study was to determine how the spinal canal of the lumbar spine changes with age. The L4/5 is the most common site of spinal stenosis and has the largest flexion-extension motion, whereas the T5/6 has the least motion. Therefore, we measured the spinal canal diameter and vertebral body height at T5, T6, L4, and L5 with age.
Materials and Methods
This was a retrospective study of aged 40 to 77 years. We reviewed whole spine sagittal MRIs of 370 patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) (Group 2) and 166 herniated cervical disc (HCD) (Group 1). Each group was divided into four age groups, and demographic parameters (age, gender, height, weight, BMI), the mid-spinal canal diameter, and mid-vertebrae height at T5, T6, L4, L5 were compared. Within- and between-group comparisons were made to evaluate changes by age and correlations were carried out to evaluate the relationships between all parameters.
Height, weight, and all radiologic parameters were significantly lower in Group 2 than Group 1. Group 1 did not show any differences, when based on age, but in Group 2, height, weight, and T6, L4, and L5 height were significantly decreased in patients in their 70's than patients in their 40's, except for spinal canal diameter. Age was associated with all parameters except spinal canal diameter.
Vertebral height decreased with age, but spinal canal diameter did not change in patients with either LSS or HCD. Mid-spinal canal diameter was not affected by aging.