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Acta Anat (Basel). 1998;163(4):218-23.

Differences in the iliolumbar ligament and the transverse process of the L5 vertebra in young white and black people.

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Department of Medical Anatomy C, Laboratory for Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The anatomy of the iliolumbar ligament (ILL) and the spatial orientation of the transverse process of the L5 vertebra were studied in 62 young black (n = 29) and white (n = 33) men and women during routine autopsy. The aim of the study was to determine possible racial differences in the structure and attachments of the iliolumbar ligament. The present study also investigated the spatial orientation of the transverse process of the L5 vertebra since the ILL has been reported to attach to the transverse process. The measurements of the iliolumbar ligament were carried out with a digital vernier caliper while the transverse process angles were measured with an adjustable protractor. The ligament in black people was made up of a single, markedly longer band compared to white people, where the ligament was made up of two shorter bands. The ILL measured 61.8 +/- 1.3 mm in black and 33.2 +/- 1.5 mm white men, and in black women 61.3 +/- 0.9 mm versus 32.2 +/- 1.2 mm in white women (p <0.01). Further, the ILL was markedly wider in black than white subjects (p <0.01). The horizontal and vertical angle also varied greatly between black and white subjects (p <0.01). These are previously unrecognized observations. Albeit unsubstantiated, these findings may have implications for understanding the etiology of various low back stress problems.

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