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Retrolisthesis May Not Exacerbate Disc Herniation

Condition is not associated with worse baseline pain or function in pre-surgical patients

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with lumbar 5-sacral 1 (L5-S1) disc herniation, those with retrolisthesis do not have worse baseline pain or function than those who do not have retrolisthesis, according to study findings published in the July/August issue of the Spine Journal.

Michael Shen, M.D., of New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, and colleagues studied 125 patients, all of whom had confirmed L5-S1 disc herniation on magnetic resonance imaging and subsequently underwent lumbar discectomy.

The investigators found that 23.2 percent of the patients had retrolisthesis at L5-S1. They also found that the incidences of retrolisthesis with posterior degenerative changes, degenerative disc disease, or vertebral endplate changes were 4.8 percent, 16 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. But the researchers could find no significant association between retrolisthesis and an increased incidence of disc degeneration, degenerative vertebral endplates, or degenerative posterior elements.

"It is possible that the contribution of pain or dysfunction related to retrolisthesis was far overshadowed by the presence of symptoms caused by the concomitant disc herniation," the authors conclude. "It remains to be seen whether retrolisthesis will affect outcome after discectomy in these patients."

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