The Relationship amongst Intervertebral Disc Vertical Diameter, Lateral Foramen Diameter and Nerve Root Impingement in Lumbar Vertebra
Introduction: The vertical diameter of the foramen is dependent upon the vertical diameter of the corresponding intervertebral disc. A decrease in disc vertical diameter has direct anatomic consequences to the foraminal diameter and area available for the nerve root passing through it. This study is to establish the relationship amongst the intervertebral disc vertical diameter, lateral foramen diameters and nerve root compression in the lumbar vertebra.
Materials and Methods: Measurements of the study parameters were performed using sagittal MRI images. The parameters studied were: intervertebral disc vertical diameter (DVD), foraminal vertical diameter (FVD), foraminal transverse diameter (FTD) and nerve root diameter (NRD) of both sides. The relationship between the measured parameters were then analyzed.
Results: A total of 62 MRI images were available for this study. Statistical analysis showed moderate to strong correlation between DVD and FVD at all the lumbar levels except at left L23 and L5S1 and right L3L4 and L4L5. Correlation between DVD and FTD were not significant at all lumbar levels. Regression analysis showed that a decrease of 1mm of DVD was associated with 1.3, 1.7, 3.3, 3.3 and 1.3mm reduction of FVD at L1L2, L2L3, L3L4, L4L5 and L5S1 respectively.
Conclusion: Reduction of DVD was associated with reduction of FVD. However, FVD was relatively wide for the nerve root even with complete loss of DVD. FTD was much narrower than the FVD making it more likely to cause nerve root compression at the exit foramina. These anatomical details should be given consideration in treating patients with lateral canal stenosis.
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