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Skeletal Radiol. 1996 Feb;25(2):119-26.

Degenerative disk vascularization on MRI: correlation with clinical and histopathologic findings.

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Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich, Germany.



This prospective study was designed to determine the MRI features, clinical significance, and correlation to histopathologic findings of secondary vascularized degenerative intervertebral disks.


Fifty-three patients with localized painful spine syndrome were investigated prospectively by contrast-enhanced MRI. Pain was not predominantly radiating and there was no clinical evidence of spinal infection. In all patients sagittal SE T1-weighted, fast SE T2-weighted or turbo-STIR, and T1-weighted frequency-selective fat-suppressed images were obtained.


We identified 37 vascularized disks in 26 patients. In 18 patients the changes had occurred spontaneously, in 6, the affected disk had been operated on previously, and 2 patients had spondylolisthesis. In 15 patients, vascularization was accompanied by medullary edema adjacent to the vertebral endplates. In one of the vascularized disks, herniation was also found. In seven patients, ventral diskectomy was performed. Histopathologic findings confirmed disk vascularization in six of seven cases.


Degenerative, band-like disk vascularization is a feature which is associated with local pain. It was demonstrated by contrast-enhanced MRI. Degenerative disk vascularization is an important differential diagnosis to bacterial spondylodiskitis. It can be a cause of pain in patients with postdiskectomy syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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