A rare cause of lumbar radiculopathy: spinal gas collection

J Spinal Disord. 2000 Oct;13(5):451-4. doi: 10.1097/00002517-200010000-00014.


The presence of gas in the intervertebral disk space, known as the vacuum phenomenon, is a relatively common radiologic finding, especially on computed tomographic investigation. In a few cases, the gas can be collected into the lumbar spinal canal and can also compress the nerve root. To date only seven cases of symptomatic lumbar radiculopathy caused by a bubble of gas are reported in the literature. The presence of gas inside a narrowed disk and the collection of gas in the spinal canal suggest a communication between the two structures. A case of lumbar radiculopathy caused by a collection of gas in the spinal canal provided the authors the opportunity to study this rare condition by magnetic resonance imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging had not been used before in the referred cases and proved conclusively the discal origin of the gas.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Embolism, Air / etiology*
  • Embolism, Air / pathology*
  • Embolism, Air / physiopathology
  • Embolism, Air / surgery
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / pathology*
  • Intervertebral Disc / physiopathology
  • Intervertebral Disc / surgery
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / physiopathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery
  • Longitudinal Ligaments / pathology
  • Longitudinal Ligaments / physiopathology
  • Longitudinal Ligaments / surgery
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiculopathy / etiology*
  • Radiculopathy / pathology*
  • Radiculopathy / physiopathology
  • Sciatica / etiology
  • Sciatica / pathology
  • Sciatica / physiopathology
  • Sciatica / surgery
  • Spinal Canal / pathology*
  • Spinal Canal / physiopathology
  • Spinal Canal / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome