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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1988 Feb;13(2):173-8.

Lumbar disc degeneration: correlation with age, sex, and spine level in 600 autopsy specimens.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Using data from 16 published reports, the authors correlated macroscopic disc degeneration grades with age, sex, and spine level in 600 lumbar intervertebral discs from 273 cadavers (ages: 0-96 years). Male discs were more degenerated than female discs at most ages; significantly so in the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh decades. On average, L4-L5 and L3-L4 level discs showed more degeneration than discs at other lumbar levels. These macroscopic findings corroborate radiographic data from epidemiologic studies. The calculations suggest that higher mechanical stress, perhaps combined with longer nutritional pathways, may be responsible for the earlier degeneration of male discs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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