Modic Changes Common in Patients With Lower Back Pain

Degenerative lumbar processes, male gender, and high BMI linked with increased risk

FRIDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- A high prevalence of Modic changes is seen among Spanish patients with chronic lower back pain (LBP) for whom magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been prescribed, according to a study published in the May issue of The Spine Journal.

Estanislao Arana, M.D., M.H.A., Ph.D., from the Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología in Spain, and colleagues assessed the prevalence of Modic changes and other lumbar MRI findings in a cohort of 487 Spanish adult chronic LBP patients, and assessed the characteristics associated with these changes. Ten radiologists from six hospitals across six cities in Spain recruited patients with LBP lasting three months or more, who were prescribed an MRI. Outcomes measured were patient characteristics (including gender, age, body mass index [BMI], lifetime smoking exposure, and physical activity) and radiologic findings (disc degeneration, type and extension of Modic changes, disc contour, annular tears, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis).

The investigators found that 81 percent of the patients had Modic changes, most commonly Type II changes affecting only the end plate (51.3 percent). Male gender, higher BMI, presence of disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis, and disc contour abnormalities were linked to an increased risk of Type II or any Modic changes. Type I changes were associated with the presence of disc degeneration, spondylolisthesis, and disc contour abnormalities.

"Modic changes are found in 81 percent of adult Spanish chronic LBP patients in whom an MRI is prescribed; they usually only affect the vertebral end plate and are more likely to be found in male patients with a high BMI," the authors write.

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