Aim: To investigate if there is any in vivo diurnal T2 value changes in the nucleus pulposus in normal and degenerated lumbar intervertebral discs.
Materials and methods: Eighteen volunteers (16 men, two women) with no symptoms related to lumbar disease were imaged in the morning before beginning daily work and in the evening after finishing work. Sagittal fast spin-echo T2-weighted images were obtained, following spin-echo transverse imaging for T2 analysis.
Results: The normal disc group (n=71) showed statistically significant diurnal T2 value changes (p<0.001), whilst the degenerating disc group (n=19) showed no significant diurnal changes. The normal disc group up to age 34 years showed statistically significant diurnal T2 value changes. However no significant changes were demonstrated after the age 35 years.
Conclusion: Statistically significant diurnal T2 value changes in the normal lumbar intervertebral discs were demonstrated. Disappearance of the diurnal T2 value changes in the normal discs after the age 35 years was revealed for the first time and thought to be an aspect of aging, not caused by degeneration.