Study design: A prospective study conducted on several roentgenographic parameters of the standing sagittal profile of the spine in an asymptomatic Greek population.
Objectives: To perform segmental analysis of the sagittal plane alignment of the normal thoracic, lumbar, and lumbosacral spines and to compare the findings with those derived from similar populations.
Summary of background data: Until recently, little attention has been paid to the sagittal segmental alignment of the spine, and there are only a few studies (in French and American populations) in which radiographic analysis of sagittal spinal alignment is investigated.
Methods: Ninety-nine consecutive asymptomatic Greek volunteers (38 men, 61 women), an average age of 52.7 +/- 15 years old (range, 20-79 years), were included in this prospective study, on the basis of several inclusion criteria. These volunteers were divided into six distinct age groups. The radiologic parameters, which were measured (by Cobb's method) on the lateral standing roentgenograms of the whole spine were: thoracic kyphosis (T4-T12), lumbar lordosis (L1-L5), total lumbar lordosis (T12-S1), distal lumbar lordosis (L4-S1), sacral inclination (measured from the line drawn parallel along the back of the proximal sacrum and the vertical line), pelvic tilting, vertebral body inclination, and relative segmental inclination between pairs of adjacent vertebrae.
Results: Thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis (T12-S1, L1-L5) were not gender related. Thoracic kyphosis increased with age (P < 0.001), the lumbar spine (L1-L5) gradually became less lordotic as the thoracic kyphosis increased (P < 0.003), and total lumbar lordosis was not age related. Sacral inclination correlated strongly with both thoracic kyphosis (P < 0.002) and L1-L5 lordosis (P < 0.001). Pelvic tilting correlated strongly with L1-L5 lordosis (P < 0.0075), but did not correlate with thoracic kyphosis and age. Vertebral body inclination showed a narrow variability in T6-T12 and in L4 and a wide variability in T4, T5, L1-L3, and S1. Distal lumbar lordosis represents the 68.6% of the total lumbar lordosis.
Conclusions: In the results of this study, a reliable table of reference for roentgenographic parameters in the sagittal plane of the spine was established in an asymptomatic Greek population. The parameters are similar to those used in previous studies. Thus, these data should be considered in preoperative planning and postoperative evaluation of achieved correction during restoration procedures of the spine in the sagittal plane.