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Eur Spine J. 1995;4(1):56-9.

Schmorl's nodes and low-back pain. Analysis of magnetic resonance imaging findings in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kanazawa University, Japan.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in cases with symptomatic and asymptomatic Schmorl's nodes have been analysed. In all symptomatic cases, the vertebral body marrow surrounding the Schmorl's node was seen as low signal intensity on T1-weighted images and as high signal intensity on T2-weighted images. It was confirmed by histological examination that the MRI findings indicated the presence of inflammation and oedema in the vertebral bone marrow. These MRI findings were not seen in asymptomatic individuals. Inflammatory changes in the vertebral body marrow induced by intraosseous fracture and biological reactions to intraspongious disc materials might cause pain. We postulate that after fracture healing and subsidence of inflammation, the Schmorl's nodes become asymptomatic, in analogy with old vertebral compression fractures. MRI is not only useful in detecting the recently developed Schmorl's nodes but also in differentiating between symptomatic and asymptomatic Schmorl's nodes.

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