P. A. Laudato, G. Kulik, C. Schizas

October 2015, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2264 - 2268 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-015-4021-z

First Online: 19 May 2015


We aimed to study the relationship between two morphological parameters recently described on MRI images in relation to lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS): the first is the sedimentation sign (SedS) and the second is the morphological grading of lumbar stenosis.

Materials and methods

MRIs from a total of 137 patients were studied. From those, 110 were issued from a prospective database of symptomatic LSS patients, of whom 73 were treated surgically and 37 conservatively based on symptom severity. A third group consisting of 27 subjects complaining of low back pain (LBP) served as control. Severity of stenosis was judged at disc level using the four A to D grade morphological classification. The presence of a SedS was judged at pedicle level, above or below the site of maximal stenosis.


A positive SedS was observed in 58, 69 and 76 % of patients demonstrating B, C and D morphology, respectively, but in none with grade A morphology. The SedS was positive in 67 and 35 % of the surgically and conservatively treated patients, respectively, and in 8 % of the LBP group. C and D morphological grades were present in 97 and 35 % of patients in the surgically and conservatively treated group, respectively, and in 18 % of the LBP group. Presence of a positive SedS carried an increased risk of being submitted to surgery in the symptomatic LSS group (OR 3.5). This risk was even higher in the LSS patients demonstrating grade C or D morphology (OR 65).

Discussion and conclusion

One-third of surgically treated LSS patients do not present a SedS. This sign appears to be a lesser predictor of treatment modality in our setting of symptomatic LSS patients compared to the severity of stenosis judged by the morphological grade.

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