Thoracic range of motion, stability, and correlation to imaging-determined degeneration.


OBJECT The degenerative process of the spinal column results in instability followed by a progressive loss of segmental motion. Segmental degeneration is associated with intervertebral disc and facet changes, which can be quantified. Correlating this degeneration with clinical segmental motion has not been investigated in the thoracic spine. The authors sought to determine if imaging-determined degeneration would correlate with native range of motion (ROM) or the change in ROM after decompressive procedures, potentially guiding clinical decision making in the setting of spine trauma or following decompressive procedures in the thoracic spine. METHODS Multidirectional flexibility tests with image analysis were performed on thoracic cadaveric spines with intact ib cage. Specimens consisted of 19 fresh frozen human cadaveric spines, spanning C-7 to L-1. ROM was obtained for each specimen in axial rotation (AR), flexion-extension (FE), and lateral bending (LB) in the intact state and following laminectomy, unilateral facetectomy, and unilateral costotransversectomy performed at either T4-5 (in 9 specimens) or T8-9 (in 10 specimens). Image grading of segmental degeneration was performed utilizing 3D CT reconstructions. Imaging scores were obtained for disc space degeneration, which quantified osteophytes, narrowing, and endplate sclerosis, all contributing to the Lane disc summary score. Facet degeneration was quantified using the Weishaupt facet summary score, which included the scoring of facet osteophytes, narrowing, hypertrophy, subchondral erosions, and cysts. RESULTS The native ROM of specimens from T-1 to T-12 (n = 19) negatively correlated with age in AR (Pearson's r coefficient = -0.42, p = 0.070) and FE (r = -0.42, p = 0.076). When regional ROM (across 4 adjacent segments) was considered, the presence of disc osteophytes negatively correlated with FE (r = -0.69, p = 0.012), LB (r = -0.82, p = 0.001), and disc narrowing trended toward significance in AR (r = -0.49, p = 0.107). Facet characteristics, scored using multiple variables, showed minimal correlation to native ROM (r range from -0.45 to +0.19); however, facet degeneration scores at the surgical level revealed strong negative correlations with regional thoracic stability following decompressive procedures in AR and LB (Weishaupt facet summary score: r = -0.52 and r = -0.71; p = 0.084 and p = 0.010, respectively). Disc degeneration was not correlated (Lane disc summary score: r = -0.06, p = 0.861). CONCLUSIONS Advanced age was the most important determinant of decreasing native thoracic ROM, whereas imaging characteristics (T1-12) did not correlate with the native ROM of thoracic specimens with intact rib cages. Advanced facet degeneration at the surgical level did correlate to specimen stability following decompressive procedures, and is likely indicative of the terminal stages of segmental degeneration.

DOI: 10.3171/2014.12.SPINE131112

Cite this paper

@article{Healy2015ThoracicRO, title={Thoracic range of motion, stability, and correlation to imaging-determined degeneration.}, author={Andrew Torre Healy and Prasath Mageswaran and Daniel Lubelski and Benjamin P. Rosenbaum and Virgilio Matheus and Edward C. Benzel and Thomas E. Mroz}, journal={Journal of neurosurgery. Spine}, year={2015}, volume={23 2}, pages={170-7} }