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Yonsei Med J. 2011 Jan;52(1):137-44. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2011.52.1.137.

Comparison of magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography-myelography for quantitative evaluation of lumbar intracanalar cross-section.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Gifu, Japan.



A comparison of MRI and computed tomography-myelography (CTM) for lumbar intracanalar dimensions. To compare the capability and reproducibility of MRI and CTM in measuring the cross-sectional morphology of intracanalar lesions of the lumbar spine.


MRI and CTM of lumbar disc levels from 61 subjects with various lumbar spinal diseases were studied. Dural area, dural anteroposterior (AP) diameter, dural right-left diameter, and thickness of the ligamentum flavum were measured by two orthopedic surgeons. Each section was graded by degree of stenosis. Absolute value and intra- and inter-observer correlation coefficients (ICC) of these measurements and the associations between MRI and CTM values were determined.


Except for MRI determination of ligament flavum thickness, CTM and MRI and intra- and ICC suggested sufficient reproducibility. When measurements of dural area, dural AP diameter, and RL diameter were compared, values in CTM were significantly (p = 0.01-0.004) larger than those in MRI (CTM/MRI ratios, 119%, 111%, and 105%, respectively). As spinal stenosis became more severe, discrepancies between CTM and MRI in measurements of the dural sac became larger.


Both CTM and MRI provided reproducible measurements of lumbar intracanalar dimensions. However, flavum thickness may be more accurately measured by CTM. Because the differences in the measurements between CTM and MRI are very slight and there is very little data to suggest that the precise degree of stenosis is related to symptoms or treatment outcome, the usefulness of the CTM over MRI needs to be confirmed in future studies.

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