Prevalence of Lumbar Facet Arthrosis and Its Relationship to Age, Sex, and Race: An Anatomic Study of Cadaveric Specimens.

Eubanks, Jason David;  Lee, Michael J.;  Cassinelli, Ezequiel;  Ahn, Nicholas U.

Arthrosis of lumbar facet joints is a common radiographic finding and has been linked to low back pain. However, no population studies have specifically defined the prevalence of facet arthrosis in the lumbar spine in relation to age, sex, and race.  The objective of this study was to define the prevalence of lumbar facet arthrosis in a large population sample and to examine its association with age, sex, and race. A total of 647 cadaveric lumbar spines were examined by a single examiner for evidence of lumbar facet arthrosis. Information on race, age, and sex were collected. Arthrosis at each facet was graded from 0 to 4 on a continuum from no arthritis to complete ankylosis.  The authors concluded that facet arthrosis is a universal finding in the human lumbar spine. Evidence of arthrosis begins early, with more than one half of adults younger than 30 years demonstrating arthritic changes in the facets. The most common arthritic level appears to be L4-L5. Men have a higher prevalence and degree of facet arthrosis than women.

Spine, 2007, 32(19), 2058-2062

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