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Skeletal Radiol. 2011 Aug;40(8):1033-9. doi: 10.1007/s00256-011-1102-x. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

A new grading system of lumbar central canal stenosis on MRI: an easy and reliable method.

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Department of Radiology, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, 300 Gumi-dong, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeongi-do, 464-707, South Korea.

Erratum in

  • Skeletal Radiol. 2011 Aug;40(8):1127. Guen, Young Lee [corrected to Lee, Guen Young]; Joon, Woo Lee [corrected to Lee, Joon Woo]; Hee, Seok Choi [corrected to Choi, Hee Seok]; Kyoung-Jin, Oh [corrected to Oh, Kyoung-Jin]; Heung, Sik Kang [corrected to Kang, Heung Sik].



To introduce a new grading system of lumbar central canal stenosis, evaluate its reliabilities, and compare it to the cross-sectional area and anterior-posterior diameter of the dural sac.


Lumbar central canal stenosis is defined as obliteration of the anterior CSF space in front of the cauda equina. Four musculoskeletal radiologists independently graded lumbar central canal stenosis by this new grading system based on separation degree of the cauda equina on T2-weighted axial images (grade 0 = no lumbar stenosis without obliteration of anterior CSF space; grade 1 = mild stenosis with separation of all cauda equina; grade 2 = moderate stenosis with some cauda equina aggregated; and grade 3 = severe stenosis with none of the cauda equina separated) in 81 patients to determine inter- and intra-reader reliability. One radiologist measured cross-sectional areas and anterior-posterior diameters and compared these to lumbar central canal stenosis grades.


Inter-reader reliabilities were substantial to almost perfect (ICC reliability = 0.730-0.953). Intra-reader reliability was almost perfect (kappa value = 0.863-0.900). Cross-sectional areas and anterior-posterior diameters were different according to grades at all levels (p = 0.000-0.049), except between grades 2 and 3 of L2-3. At L5-S1, only anterior-posterior diameter was different between grades 0 and 1 (p = 0.005) and between grades 0 and 2 (p = 0.022).


This new grading system may be helpful to clinicians for simple and practical evaluation of lumbar central canal stenosis and for communicating with each other.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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