The association between clinical symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis and MRI axial imaging findings

Yuki Fushimi, Koji Otani, Ryoji Tominaga, Masataka Nakamura, Miho Sekiguchi, Shin-ichi Konno

Author information
  • Yuki Fushimi

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine

  • Koji Otani

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine

  • Ryoji Tominaga

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine

  • Masataka Nakamura

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine

  • Miho Sekiguchi

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine

  • Shin-ichi Konno

    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine


Purpose: In diagnosing lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is appropriate to confirm the presence of anatomical stenosis of the spinal canal or compression of the nerve roots. However, it is known that morphological LSS is often present in asymptomatic subjects. There is still controversy about the relationship between anatomical LSS and symptomatic LSS. The aim of this study was to assess the association between qualitative imaging findings on MRI of the lumbar spine and symptomatic LSS.

Patients and methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 239 volunteers from an epidemiological survey that included 1,862 participants in total. MRI of the lumbar spine was evaluated in four categories: morphological grading of central stenosis and lateral recess stenosis, presence of the sedimentation sign, and severity of facet joint effusion. The relationship between these morphological evaluations and typical LSS symptoms as assessed by the self-administered, self-reported history questionnaire for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS-SSHQ) was investigated by multiple logistic regression analysis.

Results: The odds ratio of the most severe central stenosis to no stenosis was 15.5 (95%CI: 1.4-164.9). Only the most severe central stenosis was associated with typical LSS symptoms, but not all cases with typical LSS symptoms were due to severe central stenosis.

Conclusion: Extreme severe central stenosis was strongly related to typical LSS symptoms. However, although subjects with severe central stenosis showed symptoms suggestive of LSS, these subjects did not always show typical LSS symptoms.

The cintent of reseach paper


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