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Asian Spine J. 2014 Feb;8(1):44-50. doi: 10.4184/asj.2014.8.1.44. Epub 2014 Feb 6.

Comparison of the oswestry disability index and magnetic resonance imaging findings in lumbar canal stenosis: an observational study.

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Department of Orthopaedics, PostGraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
Department of Radiology, PostGraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.



Cross-sectional study.


The aim of the study was to determine relationship between the degrees of radiologically demonstrated anatomical lumbar canal stenosis using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its correlation with the patient's disability level, using the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).


The relationship between the imaging studies and clinical symptoms has been uncertain in patients suffering from symptomatic lumbar canal stenosis. There is a limited number of studies which correlates the degree of stenosis with simple reproducible scoring methods.


Fifty patients were selected from 350 patients who fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The patients answered the national-language translated form of ODI. The ratio of disability was interpreted, and the patients were grouped accordingly. They were subjected to MRI; and the anteroposterior diameters of the lumbar intervertebral disc spaces and the thecal sac cross sectional area were measured. Comparison was performed between the subdivisions of the degree of lumbar canal stenosis, based on the following: anteroposterior diameter (three groups: normal, relative stenosis and absolute stenosis); subdivisions of the degree of central canal stenosis, based on the thecal sac cross-sectional area, measured on axial views (three groups: normal, moderately stenotic and severely stenotic); and the ODI outcome, which was also presented in 20 percentiles.


No significant correlation was established between the radiologically depicted anatomical lumbar stenosis and the Oswestry Disability scores.


Magnetic resonance imaging alone should not be considered in isolation when assessing and treating patients diagnosed with lumbar canal stenosis.


Low back ache; Lumbar vertebrae; Magnetic resonance imaging scan; Radiculopathy

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