We studied degenerative changes in the cervical intervertebral discs of 497 asymptomatic subjects by MRI and evaluated disc degeneration by loss of signal intensity, posterior and anterior disc protrusion, narrowing of the disc space and foraminal stenosis. In each subject, five disc levels from C2-C3 to C6-C7 were evaluated. The frequency of all degenerative findings increased linearly with age. Disc degeneration was the most common observation, being present in 17% of discs of men and 12% of those of women in their twenties, and 86% and 89% of discs of both men and women over 60 years of age. We found significant differences in frequency between genders for posterior disc protrusion and foraminal stenosis. The former, with demonstrable compression of the spinal cord, was observed in 7.6% of subjects, mostly over 50 years of age. Our results should be taken into account when interpreting the MRI findings in patients with symptomatic disorders of the cervical spine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine