Imaging features of the aging spine
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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Gruca Teaching Hospital, Medical Center of Postgraduate Education, Otwock, Poland
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of the Interior in Warsaw, Poland
Submission date: 2020-08-10
Acceptance date: 2020-09-04
Publication date: 2021-06-24
Pol J Radiol, 2021; 86: 380-386
Among many degenerative abnormalities commonly found in spine imaging, not all are associated with the patient’s symptoms. We aimed to assess features of the standard, asymptomatic aging process of the spine. In this narrative review, we emphasize studies that describe imaging features of the spine in asymptomatic populations of different age groups. Degeneration of the intervertebral discs, bulging, and facet joint arthropathy have been documented in almost 90% of asymptomatic patients over 60 years of age. After the age of 40 years, nearly all patients have anterior and lateral vertebral osteophytes, whereas posterior osteophytes are found in a minority of them. There is a gradual increase in vertebral bone marrow fat composition with age with the acceleration of this process in women after menopause. The prevalence of these findings is common in asymptomatic populations and varies depending on the patient’s age. It is essential to differentiate likely natural and age-related findings from pathological abnormalities to make an accurate diagnosis.
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