Lumbar disc degeneration: correlation with age, sex, and spine level in 600 autopsy specimens

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1988 Feb;13(2):173-8.


Using data from 16 published reports, the authors correlated macroscopic disc degeneration grades with age, sex, and spine level in 600 lumbar intervertebral discs from 273 cadavers (ages: 0-96 years). Male discs were more degenerated than female discs at most ages; significantly so in the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh decades. On average, L4-L5 and L3-L4 level discs showed more degeneration than discs at other lumbar levels. These macroscopic findings corroborate radiographic data from epidemiologic studies. The calculations suggest that higher mechanical stress, perhaps combined with longer nutritional pathways, may be responsible for the earlier degeneration of male discs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Diseases / pathology*