Sophie Merckaert, Katarzyna Pierzchala, Gerit Kulik, Constantin Schizas

February 2015, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 313 - 318 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-014-3524-3

First Online: 29 August 2014


Symptomatic foraminal stenosis has been observed in patients with degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, asymmetrical disc degeneration and spondylolisthesis. Nevertheless not all patients with the above pathologies will develop symptomatic foraminal stenosis. We hypothesised that symptomatic patients have anatomical predisposition to foraminal stenosis, namely a larger pedicle height (PH) to vertebral body height (VH) ratio, leaving less room below the pedicle for the exiting nerve root compared to asymptomatic patients.

Patient sample

66 Patients were divided in two groups. The surgical group consisted of 37 patients (average age of 61 years) who presented with severe radicular symptoms resisting to conservative measures and requiring decompression and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The control group consisted of 29 patients (average age of 51 years) presenting with low back pain (LBP) but with no radicular symptoms and who were treated conservatively.


We measured VH at the level of the posterior wall as well as PH on parasagittal images (CT or MRI) on all lumbar levels (L1 to L5). Statistical analysis was performed using Student’s t test.


No difference in PH was found between the two groups for L1 to L4 levels. By contrast, there was a highly statistically significant difference in VH between the two groups from L1 to L4 level. In the surgical group, the VH was smaller (p < 0.001).


Symptomatic patients with foraminal stenosis have smaller VH leading to lesser space beneath the pedicle and putting the exiting nerve root at risk in cases of spondylolisthesis or disc degeneration.

Read Full Article