2018 Volume 2 Issue 4 Pages 299-303
Introduction: A high-intensity zone (HIZ) in an intervertebral disc of the lumbar spine is a high-intensity signal located in the posterior annulus fibrosus on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There is limited information on the prevalence of HIZ in the lumbar spine according to age. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the prevalence of HIZ in the lumbar spine by age and the correlation between HIZ and other degenerative findings, such as disc degeneration, disc bulging and herniation, and changes in adjacent vertebral endplates on lumbar MRI.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed MRI studies of 305 patients (1525 discs) with low back pain, leg pain, or numbness. The prevalence of HIZ was calculated in 5 age groups (<20, 20-39, 40-59, 60-79, 80-91 years).
Results: The number of patients in the 5 age groups was 19, 38, 69, 145, and 36, respectively. The prevalence of HIZ in the 5 age groups was 11.8%, 47.3%, 52.2%, 42.8%, and 50.0%, respectively. Disc degeneration was observed in 58.1% and 39.2% of discs with and without HIZ, respectively; disc bulging and herniation was observed in 63.9% and 41.1% and intensity changes at adjacent end plates in 11.6% and 10.0%, respectively.
Conclusions: Prevalence of HIZ from the third decade of life onward was around 50%, with no significant change in prevalence beyond the age of 20 years. HIZ was correlated with disc degeneration, disc bulging, and disc herniation in patients with LBP, leg pain, or numbness.