A variety of measurements of the lumbar spinal canal (SC) and intervertebral foramina (IVF) are presented and compared in two adult age groups (48 individuals aged 20-35 and 48 individuals over 60 years) in both males and females. The dimensions measured in fresh post-mortem material include: mid-sagittal (AP) and transverse diameters (TD) of the SC; height, length and greater antero-posterior (AP) width of the IVF and ligamentum flavum (LF) thickness at the lumbo-sacral level.
The data show a significant decline in the SC APD in both sexes, but the SC TD increases with ageing in males while it declines with ageing in females. The IVF height decreases with ageing but its AP width increases and its length increases. The LF shows a 50% increase in thickness with ageing. These ageing changes in a ‘normal’ population provide the neurovascular bundle in the IVF with less ‘room for manoeuvre’ and support the view that minor additional pathology is more likely to lead to entrapment syndromes in the elderly than in the young.
Cave A J E 1955 Osteo-arthritis deformans of the Luscka joints. The Lancet 176–179.
Domisse G F 1975 Morphological aspects of the lumbar spine and lumbo-sacral region. Orthopaedic Clinics of North America 6: 163–175.
Eisenstein S 1977 The morphometry and pathological anatomy of the lumbar spine in South Africa negroes and caucasoids with specific reference to spinal stenosis. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 59-B: 173–180.
Farfan H F 1973 Mechanical Disorders of the Low Back. Lea and Ferbiger, London.
Hadly L A 1936 Apophyseal subluxation - disturbances in and about the IV foramen causing back pain. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 18: 428–433.
Haworth J B, Keillor G W 1962 Use of transparencies in evaluating the width of the spinal canal in infants, children and adults. Radiology 79: 109–114.
Heliovaara M, Vanharanta H, Korpi J, Troup J D G 1986 Herniated lumbar disc syndromes and vertebral canals. Spine 11(5): 433–435.
Knutsson F 1961 Growth and differentiation of the post-natal vertebrae. Acta Radiologica 55: 401–408.
Lane J M, Vigorita V J 1984 Osteoporosis. Orthopaedic Clinics of North America 15(4): 711–728.
Larsen J L 1983 The posterior surface of the lumbar vertebral bodies. Spine 10(1): 50–58.
Pogrund H A, Bloom R A, Menczel J 1986 Preventing osteoporosis: current practices and problems. Geriatrics 41(5): 55–71.
Porter R W, Hibbert C S, Wicks M 1978 The spinal canal in symptomatic lumbar disc lesions. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 60-B(4): 485–487.
Porter R W, Hibbert C S, Wellman P 1980 Backache and the lumbar spinal canal. Spine 5(2): 98–105.
Preteux F, Bergot C Laval-Jeantet A M 1985 Automatic quantification of vertebral cancellous bone remodelling during ageing. Anatomic Clinica 7(3): 203–208.
Ramsay R H 1966 The anatomy of the ligamenta flava. Clinical Orthopaedics atid Related Research 44: 129–140.
Reichmann S, Lewin T 1971 Growth processes in the lumbar neural arch. Zeitschrift fur Anatomie und Entwicklungsschichte 133: 89–101.
Schmorl G, Junghanns H 1971 The Human Spine in Health and Disease. 2nd ed. New York and London, Grune and Stratton.
Sunderland S 1974 Meningeal-neural relations in the intervertebral foramen. Journal of Neurosurgery 40: 756–763.
Taylor J R, Twomey L T 1980 Sagittal and horizontal plane movement of the human lumbar vertebral column in cadavers and in the living. Rheumatology and Rehabilitation 19: 223–232.
Taylor J R, Twomey L T 1986 Age changes in lumbar zygapophyseal joints: observations on structure and function. Spine 11(7): 739–745.
Twomey L T 1981 Age Changes in the Human Lumbar Spine. PhD Thesis, University of Western Australia.
Twomey L T, Taylor J R 1982 Flexion creep deformation and hysteresis in the lumbar vertebral column. Spine 7(2): 116–122.
Twomey L T, Taylor J R 1983 Sagittal movements of the human lumbar vertebral column: a quantitative study of the role of the posterior vertebral elements. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 64: 322–325.
Twomey L T, Taylor J R 1985 Age changes in lumbar intervertebral discs. Acta Orthopaedica Scandinavica 56: 496–499.
Verbiest H 1975 Pathomorphological aspects of developmental lumbar stenosis. Orthopaedic Clinics of North America 6(1): 177–195.
Verbiest H 1976 Fallacies of the present definition, nomenclature and classification of the stenoses of the lumbar vertebral canal. Spine 1: 217–225.
White A A, Panjabi M M 1978 The Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine. JB Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.
Winston K, Rumbaugh C, Colucci V 1984 The vertebral canals in lumbar disc disease. Spine 9(4): 414–417.
Yong-Hing M D, Reilly J Kirkaldy-Willis W H 1976 The ligamentum flavum. Spine 1(4): 226–234.
About this article
Cite this article
Twomey, L., Taylor, J. Age changes in the lumbar spinal and intervertebral canals. Spinal Cord 26, 238–249 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1038/sc.1988.37
- Spinal canal
- Intervertebral foramina
- Lumbar spine
- Spinal stenosis
- Age changes
Application of a correlation between the lumbar Torg ratio and the area of the spinal canal to predict lumbar stenosis: a study of 420 postmortem subjects
Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (2013)
Surgical and Radiologic Anatomy (1993)