Disc height loss—a radiological finding that must be considered in the diagnosis of back pain.

approximation of vertebrae changes

Degenerated discs are characterized by the structural breakdown and mechanical dysfunction brought on by a series of biochemical degradation changes, which may also cause a disc to become uncomfortable due to neurochemical processes. Healthy discs depend on diffusion to move nutrients and waste materials from the surrounding blood arteries and the organized collagen fibres of the annulus fibrosus (AF) to the nucleus pulposus, which is a core region filled with a gel-like substance (NP).

The Nucleus Pulposus no longer has a gel-like consistency as a result of ageing, and its proteoglycan content and water concentration have both reduced. A protein core is attached to sugars called glycosaminoglycans, which have a fixed negative charge, to form a structure called a proteoglycan.

Disc Height Loss

Sodium ions are drawn to glycosaminoglycans, which increases the extracellular matrix’s osmolarity. Ions are lost along with the proteoglycan degradation, which causes the nucleus pulposus to become dehydrated. Because high intradiscal pressure is a need for the appropriate mechanical operation of the disc under physiologic settings, lower osmotic pressure in the NP also increases the burden on the annulus and causes additional collagen degradation.

In a publication in Global Spine Journal1 the authors proposed a novel ratio to determine which discs are painful in MRI imaging.

The authors concluded that quantifiable biomarkers for degenerative disc degeneration and low back pain are required. Both disc height and T1 measurements reveal a significant difference between painful and healthy discs as well as between painful and non-painful discs from patients with low back pain. These findings lay the groundwork for the creation of noninvasive imaging predictive models that will help diagnose and treat low back pain sufferers who have degenerative disc disease. Combining T1 MRI and disc height analysis demonstrates a promising capacity to discern between discs that are not painful and those that could be painful, hence reducing the need for provocative diskography.

Dynamic Disc Designs

At ddd, we create anatomical models with an annulus and nucleus to demonstrate disc height loss. We dynamically educate the patients on the changes that can occur at the motion segment level. Explore.