Classification of Chronic Back Muscle Degeneration after Spinal Surgery and Its Relationship with Low Back Pain

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Classification of Chronic Back Muscle Degeneration after Spinal Surgery and Its Relationship with Low Back Pain
Key Take-Away: 

There are many conditions associated with the back muscle degeneration. Spinal surgery is among the reasons for the same. The lumbar spine injuries have been reported to be suppressed by the posterior lumbar surgery. The most important finding of this study was the revelation of the Type 2 (fatty) change.

To classify back muscle degeneration using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and investigate its relationship with back pain after surgery.

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

To classify back muscle degeneration using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and investigate its relationship with back pain after surgery.

Back muscle injury and degeneration often occurs after posterior lumbar surgery, and the degeneration may be a cause of back pain. However, the relationship between back muscle degeneration and back pain remains controversial.

Methods: 

A total of 84 patients (average age, 65.1 years; 38 men, 46 women) with lumbar spinal stenosis underwent posterior decompression surgery alone. MRI (1.5 tesla) was evaluated before and more than a year after surgery in all patients.

Muscle on MRI was classified into three categories: low intensity in T1-weighted imaging, high intensity in T2-weighted imaging (type 1), high intensity in both T1- and T2-weighted images (type 2), and low intensity in both T1- and T2-weighted imaging (type 3). The prevalence of the types and their relationship with back pain (determined on a visual analog scale) were evaluated.

Results: 

MRI revealed muscle degeneration in all patients after surgery (type 1, 6%; type 2, 82%; and type 3, 12%). Type 2 was significantly more frequent compared with types 1 and 3 (p<0.01).

Low back pain was significantly improved after surgery (p<0.01). Low back pain was not associated with any MRI type of muscle degeneration after surgery (p>0.05).

Conclusion: 

Various pathologies of back muscle degeneration after posterior lumbar surgery were revealed. Type 2 (fatty) change was most frequent, and other patients had type 3 (scar) or type 1 (inflammation or water-like) changes.

According to the Modic classification of bone marrow changes, Modic type 1 change is associated with inflammation and back pain. However, no particular type of back muscle degeneration was correlated with back pain after surgery.

Asian Spine J. 2016 Jun;10(3):516-21
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