Purpose: To investigate the frequency of tandem lumbar and cervical intervertebral disc degeneration in asymptomatic subjects.
Methods: We evaluated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results from 94 volunteers (48 men and 46 women; mean age 48 years) for age-related intervertebral disc degeneration in the lumbar and cervical spine.
Results: MRI indicated degenerative changes in the lumbar spine in 79 subjects (84 %), with decreased disc signal intensity in 74.5 %, posterior disc protrusion in 78.7 %, anterior compression of the dura in 81.9 %, disc space narrowing in 21.3 %, and spinal canal stenosis in 12.8 %. These findings were more common in older subjects at caudal levels. MRI showed degenerative changes in both the lumbar and cervical spine in 78.7 % of the volunteers.
Conclusions: Degenerative findings in both the lumbar and cervical spine, suggesting tandem disc degeneration, was common in asymptomatic subjects. These results provide normative data for evaluating patients with degenerative lumbar and cervical disc diseases.