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Prevalence, Patterns of Modic Changes in Spine Described

Presence of modic changes linked to age; greater age also tied to end plates affected, size of MCs

FRIDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Modic changes (MCs) are frequently detected in the lumbar spine, and their presence is associated with age, according to a study published online April 20 in The Spine Journal.

Yue Wang, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues investigated the prevalence and distribution patterns of MCs in lumbar spine magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of 561 white male participants (mean age, 49.8 years) from the Finnish Twin Spine Study database. All end plates in the lumbar region were evaluated to identify MCs, which were classified as Type 1, 2, 3, or mixed.

The researchers identified MCs in 55.6 percent of individuals and 13.5 percent of end plates. The MCs were mainly Type 2 (64.2 percent), with 16.0 percent Type 1, 18.1 percent mixed Type 1/2, and 1.6 percent Type 3 or mixed Type 2/3. The majority of MCs were found in the lower lumbar region (74.5 percent), and 77.9 percent of MCs were present in pairs at opposing end plates of a disc, which were usually concordant for type. There was a positive association between the presence of MCs and age (for each additional year of age: odds ratio, 1.05 to 1.08, depending on type; P < 0.001). Increasing age correlated with a significantly greater number of end plates affected and with size of MCs.

"Modic changes are common MRI findings in the lumbar spines of middle-aged white men, with Type 2 MCs predominating," the authors write. "The presence and size of MCs are clearly related to age, suggesting that aging or associated factors may play an essential role in the pathogenesis of MCs."

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