Degenerative disease of the lumbar spine

Radiologia. 2016 Apr:58 Suppl 1:26-34. doi: 10.1016/j.rx.2015.12.004. Epub 2016 Feb 10.
[Article in English, Spanish]


In the last 25 years, scientific research has brought about drastic changes in the concept of low back pain and its management. Most imaging findings, including degenerative changes, reflect anatomic peculiarities or the normal aging process and turn out to be clinically irrelevant; imaging tests have proven useful only when systemic disease is suspected or when surgery is indicated for persistent spinal cord or nerve root compression. The radiologic report should indicate the key points of nerve compression, bypassing inconsequential findings. Many treatments have proven inefficacious, and some have proven counterproductive, but they continue to be prescribed because patients want them and there are financial incentives for doing them. Following the guidelines that have proven effective for clinical management improves clinical outcomes, reduces iatrogenic complications, and decreases unjustified and wasteful healthcare expenditures.

Keywords: Ciática; Columna; Diagnostic imaging; Diagnóstico por la imagen; Estenosis del conducto espinal; Low back pain; Lumbalgia; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuroreflexotherapy; Neurorreflejoterapia; Resonancia magnética; Sciatica; Spinal canal stenosis; Spine; Tratamiento; Treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Diseases / therapy