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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1984 Sep;9(6):549-51.

A study of computer-assisted tomography. I. The incidence of positive CAT scans in an asymptomatic group of patients.


In order to study the type and number of CAT scan abnormalities of the lumbar spine that occur in asymptomatic people, 52 studies from a control population with no history of back trouble were mixed randomly with six scans from patients with surgically proven spinal disease, and all were interpreted by three neuroradiologists in a blinded fashion. Irrespective of age, 35.4% (26.6%, 51.0%, and 31.3%) were found to be abnormal. Spinal disease was identified in an average of 19.5% (23.8%, 22.7%, and 12.5%) of the under 40-year-olds, and it was a herniated nucleus pulposus in every instance. In the over 40-year-old age group, there was an average of 50% (29.2%, 81.5%, and 48.1%) abnormal findings, with diagnoses of herniated disc, facet degeneration, and stenosis occurring most frequently.

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