The importance of level stratification for quantitative MR studies of lumbar intervertebral discs: a cross-sectional analysis in 101 healthy adults
journal contributionposted on 2019-09-01, 00:00 authored by H Hebelka, K Lagerstrand, H Brisby, Patrick OwenPatrick Owen, M J Quittner, Timo RantalainenTimo Rantalainen, Daniel BelavyDaniel Belavy
Purpose: To investigate whether quantitative T2-times depend on lumbar intervertebral disc (IVD) level. Methods: The lumbar spine (Th12/L1–L5/S1) of 101 participants (53.5% female, 30.0[± 3.6]years, 173.5[± 9.6]cm and 69.9[± 13.4]kg), without history of back pain, was examined on a 3T scanner with sagittal T2-mapping. All IVDs were stratified according to Pfirrmann grade and lumbar level, with mean T2-time determined for the entire IVD volume and in five subregions of interests. Results: Significant level-dependent T2-time differences were detected, both for the entire IVD volume and its subregions. For the entire IVD volume, Pfirrmann grade 2 IVDs displayed 9–18% higher T2-times in Th12/L1 IVDs compared to L2/L3–L5/S1 IVDs (0.001 > p < 0.004) and significantly different T2-times in L1/L2–L2/L3 IVDs compared to most of the IVDs in the lower lumbar spine. In Pfirrmann grades 1, 3 and 4 IVDs, no significant level-dependent T2-time differences were observed for the entire IVD. More pronounced results were observed when comparing IVD subregions, with significant level-dependent differences also within Pfirrmann grade 1 and grade 3 IVDs. For example, in posterior IVD subregions mean T2-time was 80–82% higher in Th12/L1 compared to L3/L4–L4/L5 Pfirrmann grade 1 IVDs (p < 0.05) and 10–14% higher in L5/S1 compared to L3/L4–L4/L5 Pfirrmann grade 3 IVDs (0.02 > p < 0.001). Discussion: Significant level-dependent T2-time differences within several Pfirrmann grades, both for the entire IVD volume and for multiple IVD subregions, were shown in this large cohort study. The T2-time differences between levels existed in both non-degenerated and degenerated IVDs. These findings show the importance of stratifying for lumbar level when quantitative IVD studies are performed using T2-mapping. Graphic abstract: These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.