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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987 Sep;149(3):531-4.

MR imaging of marrow changes adjacent to end plates in degenerative lumbar disk disease.


MR studies of the lumbar spine in 41 patients were analyzed at 203 disk interspaces to assess the appearance and frequency of bone marrow signal changes in the vertebral bodies adjacent to normal and degenerated disks. Degenerative changes were found at 58 interspaces; an abnormal bone marrow signal was identified in 29 (50%) of these. On spin-echo pulse sequences with short and long repetition times (TRs) and echo times (TEs), an area of relative increased signal intensity was seen in the vertebral body adjacent to the disk in 24 cases (17 were bandlike on both sides of the disk, four were focal on one side of the disk, and three were bandlike and focal on one or both sides of the disk). In one patient decreased signal was noted on both short and long TR/TE imaging. In the other four patients decreased signal was noted on short TR/TE pulse sequences and increased signal was evident on long TR/TE. These marrow changes were not present adjacent to normal disks. The relatively high signal intensity on both short and long TR/TE pulse sequences suggests that the increased signal resulted from the conversion of normal hemopoietic bone marrow to fatty marrow. We conclude that bandlike or focal areas of high signal intensity in the bone marrow adjacent to degenerated intervertebral disks occur commonly on MR images of the spine and must not be confused with signal changes from tumors or infections involving the disk space and adjacent vertebral end plates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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