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J Korean Soc Spine Surg. 1998 May;5(1):18-24. Korean. Original Article.
Lee JK , Ahn JS , Lee JI .

STUDY DESIGN: The purpose of this study was to determine whether facet joint orientation and/or tropism influences the prevalence of disc degeneration in MRI in young patients. OBJECTIVE: 41 patients with disc degeneration disease including HNP in MRI were assesed on facet joint angles and tropism between 18 and 30 years old. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUD DATA: The patients who had back pain had association between disc degeneration and facet tropism in adults. But some authors have suggested that facet tropism has no clinical relevance. Physiologic aging and premature disc degeneration induce a gradual loss of water and proteoglycan from nucleus pulposus. METHODS: We reviewed the 41 MRI of lumbar spine with disc degeneration and measured facet joint angles on the mid-disc cut, which was parallel to inferior vertebral end-plate of superior vertebra. In simple X-ray, we reviewed relation between the transitional vertebrae and disc degeneration. It was analyzed statistically the facet joint angles and facet tropism in each levels. RESULTS: The mean facet angles was more increased in upper vertebral facet joints but statistically nonspecific. The facet tropism was not significant in all lumbar levels and the effects of transitional vertebrae on disc degeneration were ignorable and unclear. CONCLUSIONS: No statistical relationship was found among the magnitude of the angle and facet tropism and the presence of disc degeneration at any levels in young patients.

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