Turkish Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2009 , Vol 55 , Num 2

Abnormal Lumbar Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Asymptomatic Individuals

Filiz Acar Sivas 1 ,Deniz Cılız 2 ,Uğur Erel 3 ,Esra Erkol İnal 4 ,Kürşat Özoran 1 ,Bülent Sakman 2
1 Ankara Numune Eğitim ve Arafltırma Hastanesi, Fizik Tedavi ve Rehabilitasyon Kliniği, Ankara, Türkiye
2 Ankara Numune Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Radyodiyagnostik Kliniği, Ankara
3 Ankara Numune Eğitim ve Araştırma Hastanesi, Fizik Tedavi ve Rehabilitasyon Kliniği, Ankara
4 Department of Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation, Süleyman Demirel University Faculty of Medicine, Isparta, Turkey

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the abnormal findings on Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of lumbar spine in asymptomatic subjects. 

Materials and Methods: The study included 48 asymptomatic individuals and 27 patients who had already been suffering from low back pain. All participants underwent routine blood analyses and bilateral lumbosacral roentgenograms were taken. In all participants, lumbar MRI scans were performed through L1-S1 intervertebral disc spaces.

Results: The mean age of asymptomatic individuals was 25.5±3.5 years, while of the patient group it was 26±2.9 years. In asymptomatic individuals, after lumbar MRI, disc degeneration in at least one intervertebral disc level, annular tear, endplate abnormality, disc bulging, and disc protrusion were detected in 33.3%, 16.6%, 4.16%, 6.25%, and 27% of cases, respectively. When compared with the patient group, only the difference in the disc bulging ratio (25.92%) was significantly higher (p<0.05). 

Conclusion: MRI may reveal high rates of abnormal signs in asymptomatic individuals who do not suffer from low back pain. The present authors believe that ordering this scan on patients who suffer from low back pain but not planned to undergo surgery will unnecessarily increase health care expenses. 

Keywords : MRI, asymptomatic individuals, low back pai