A. Saifuddin, R. Mitchell, B. A. Taylor
February 1999, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 34 - 39 Original article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860050124
First Online: 17 February 1999
Annular tears are manifest on MRI as the high-intensity zone (HIZ) or as annular enhancement. Patients with annular tears may experience low back pain with radiation into the lower limb in the absence of nerve root compression. Inflammation of nerve roots from leak of degenerative nuclear material through full-thickness annular tears is a proposed mechanism for such leg pain. The aim of this study is to illustrate the appearance of extradural enhancement adjacent to annular tears in patients being investigated for low back pain with radiation into the lower limb(s). Sagittal T1- and T2-weighted spin echo and axial T1-weighted spin echo sequences were obtained in eight patients being investigated for low back and leg pain. In all patients, the T1-weighted sequences were repeated following intravenous gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA). Annular tears were identified at 12 sites in eight patients. Extradural inflammation appeared as a region of intermediate signal intensity replacing the fat between the posterior disc margin and the theca, which enhanced following Gd-DTPA. The inflammatory change was always associated with an annular tear, and in four cases directly involved the nerve root. Enhancement of the nerve root was seen in two cases. The findings may be relevant in the diagnosis of chemical radiculopathy secondary to inflammation at the site of an annular leak from a degenerating disc.
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