A. Saifuddin, R. Emanuel, J. White, P. Renton, I. Braithwaite, B. A. Taylor

October 1998, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 358 - 362 Original article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860050090

First Online: 19 October 1998

This study aimed to identify the morphological abnormalities of the intervertebral disc, as demonstrated by lumbar discography, that are associated with pain radiation to the hip, groin, buttock or lower limb. We carried out a retrospective review of 99 consecutive lumbar discogram reports. The association of disc degeneration, annular tears (partial or full thickness) and the level of disc injected was determined with respect to the presence and pattern of radiating pain. A total of 260 discs were injected, of which 179 were considered abnormal. Posterior annular tears were demonstrated in 84 discs, anterior annular tears in 15 discs and 45 discs had both anterior and posterior tears. A significant association was identified between isolated posterior tears and the production of concordant radiating pain (P = 0.0041). No difference was identified between partial thickness posterior tears and full thickness posterior tears associated with leak of contrast medium, with regard to radiating pain. Similarly, there was no significant association between disc level injected and the pattern of pain radiation. The results indicate that pain experienced in the buttock, hip, groin or lower limb can arise from the posterior annulus of the intervertebral disc without direct involvement of the nerve root.

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