Spine Degeneration and Inflammation

In: Musculoskeletal Diseases 2021-2024: Diagnostic Imaging [Internet]. Cham (CH): Springer; 2021. Chapter 14.


Conventional radiographs and CT are primary investigations in spinal trauma. However MRI is the primary technique in the assessment of degenerative and inflammatory disorders. There are occasions when conventional radiographs, CT and bone scintigraphy assist in the diagnosis of degenerative and inflammatory disorders.

A detailed understanding of anatomy and spine dynamic function is essential in the interpretation of imaging.

Degenerative disorders including disc disease sometimes result in neural compression, facet joint and costovertebral arthropathy which is also potentially associated with spinal stenosis and neural compression. Scheuermann described a disorder with template irregularity that mimics degenerative disorders but is a genetic condition. Pars interarticularis stress fractures were once thought to be congenital in origin but are now regarded as stress injuries occurring in adolescence potentially leading to lifelong spondylolisthesis.

Inflammatory joint disease is not just ankylosing spondylitis. There are a range of disorders, and the reporting practitioner must understand and appreciate the symptoms and signs on images. The early diagnosis of inflammatory arthropathy especially ankylosing spondylitis is essential in the effective management of the disease. Imaging is a major component of an accurate and effective diagnosis.

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