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Spondylolisthesis Rate in Older Men Higher Than Thought

Study also finds condition more prevalent in men who report higher levels of physical activity

TUESDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Lumbar spondylolisthesis may be more common in older men than previously thought, and those who are more physically active are more likely to report the condition, according to a study in the May 1 issue of Spine.

Patrick J. Denard, M.D., of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and colleagues studied a cohort of men age 65 and older who participated in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men study. The researchers obtained baseline and follow-up radiographs for a sample of the study participants (mean time between radiographs, 4.6 years) and analyzed them for spondylolisthesis prevalence and progression, defined as a 5 percent increase in slip severity on a follow-up radiograph.

There were 295 men with usable baseline radiographs, and 190 surviving participants had follow-up radiographs. The researchers found that the prevalence of lumbar spondylolisthesis was 31 percent, with 96 percent of cases involving only one vertebral level. The amount of slippage ranged from 5 to 28 percent, and nearly all listhesis was classified as Meyerding grade I. At follow-up, 12 percent of subjects with spondylolisthesis had progression and 12 percent who did not have spondylolisthesis at baseline had new onset. Spondylolisthesis was found more in men who reported higher levels of physical activity or daily walking for exercise. However, the condition was not associated with height, body mass index, heart disease, diabetes, or smoking history.

"In summary, this study suggests that spondylolisthesis may occur more often among older men than previously reported. Study samples larger than ours are needed to identify factors associated with development and progression of spondylolisthesis in older men," the authors write.

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