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. 2012 Nov;470(11):3202-6.
doi: 10.1007/s11999-012-2439-8. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

L5 Pedicle Length Is Increased in Subjects With Spondylolysis: An Anatomic Study of 1072 Cadavers

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L5 Pedicle Length Is Increased in Subjects With Spondylolysis: An Anatomic Study of 1072 Cadavers

Navkirat S Bajwa et al. Clin Orthop Relat Res. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: In spondylolisthesis, it is believed that as L5 slips on S1, the pedicle may become elongated in response to the instability in an attempt to bridge the defect. Whether patients with spondylolysis, which is largely developmental, also develop elongation of the pedicles is unknown.

Questions/purposes: The purpose of this study is to evaluate and quantify the increase in L5 pedicle length in subjects with spondylolysis as compared with normal healthy subjects.

Methods: Nine hundred fifty-two human cadaveric specimens without spondylolysis and 120 specimens with spondylolysis from the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection were examined by a single examiner. Baseline data, including age, sex, and race of specimens, were collected. Digital calipers were used to measure the pedicle lengths at the L5 level. Linear regression analysis was performed to compare the L5 pedicle lengths in healthy patients and patients with spondylolysis.

Results: Linear regression showed a significant association of increased L5 pedicle length in subjects with spondylolysis. The average L5 pedicle length in subjects with spondylolysis was greater compared with subjects without spondylolysis. In spondylolytic specimens, pedicles start to elongate after the age of 40 years. The pedicle lengths increase progressively from 5.6 mm at 40 years to 6.7 mm at 80 years with a 1% to 3% increment every decade. The pedicle lengths showed little variation in specimens from healthy subjects.

Conclusions: In spondylolytic specimens, there is progressive elongation of L5 pedicle length after the third decade. An increase in L5 pedicle length in all age groups compared with the specimens from healthy subjects suggests that pathologic changes occur in bony anatomy of L5 vertebrae as early as adolescence when the condition develops.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Pedicle length is measured from the superior aspect of the lumbar vertebrae. The average of both pedicles was used in the study.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
The increase in L5 pedicle length through decades in spondylolytic specimens as compared with normal specimens is shown.

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