Reliability of diffusion weighted MR imaging in differentiating degenerative and infectious end plate changes

Radiol Oncol. 2010 Jun;44(2):97-102. doi: 10.2478/v10019-010-0006-z. Epub 2010 May 24.


Background: The aim of the study was to investigate the value of diffusion weighted MR imaging in the diagnosis of Modic type 1 change, which may be confused with the acute infectious spondylodiscitis on conventional MR imaging.

Patients and methods: Twenty-seven patients with erosive intervertebral osteochondrosis, Modic type 1 and 18 patients with spondylodiscitis were included in this retrospective study. All images were acquired using on 1.5 Tesla MR units. Lumbar spinal MR imaging of 45 patients were retrieved from a digital database of a radiology record system and evaluated by one experienced radiologist. Patients with Modic type 1 change had CT slices obtained from the diseased disc space and the affected vertebrae.

Results: Bone marrow adjacent to the vertebral end plate in both Modic type 1 change and acute spondylodiscitis were hypointense on T1-weighted images. On T2-weighted images corresponding levels of vertebral end-plates showed hyperintense signal intensity in both group. All the patients with spondylodiscitis and Modic type 1 change were hyperintense and hypointense on diffusion-weighted MR images, respectively.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that diffusion weighted MR imaging is an useful method in differentiating Modic type 1 changes from acute spondylodiscitis, both of which may mimic each other, either on clinical or conventional MRI findings.

Keywords: Modic type 1 change; diffusion-weighted imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; spondylodiscitis; vertebral end-plate.