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01.12.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2018

Archives of Osteoporosis 1/2018

Plain radiograghs of lumbar spine in patients with low back pain

Archives of Osteoporosis > Ausgabe 1/2018
Ngozi R. Njeze, Salome N. Ezeofor, Olanike R. Agwu-Umahi
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11657-018-0477-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Low back pain (LBP) is a common presenting complaint in our hospital in Enugu Nigeria. Three hundred thirty-three radiographs of patients with LBP were studied. A lot of them had bony outgrowths (osteophytes) on the spine. Plain radiograph of the spine is useful in studying these patients’ condition.


Low back pain (LBP) is one of the common symptoms which bring patients to hospital and ultimately to radiology department for medical assistance. Plain radiographs of lumbar spine are usually the initial imaging tools requested by clinicians. The objective of this study is to evaluate commonest finding in patients with LBP to guide physicians for improved management.


This work was a retrospective study. Plain films of these patients with LBP at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, were assessed by two radiologists. Findings documented and analyzed using IBM’S SPSS 22. Association was determined using chi-square with level of significance, p < 0.05.


Total number of radiographs reviewed was 333. One hundred and eighty-three (55.0%) patients were females. Age ranged from 14 to 101 years. Mean age of 53.4 ± 15.9 years. Disc space was normal in majority (55.3%, 184/333) of patients; narrowing was observed in most others (43.2%, 144/333), about half of the narrowing occurring along with vacuum phenomenon. Osteophytes were commonest finding in a total of 284/333 (85.3%) existing alone or in combination with other findings. Proportion of patients with osteophytes was highest in sixth to eighth decade of life (98.8% of 61–80 age group), followed by 41–60 age group (92.9%). This association between age group and the presence of osteophytes was statistically significant (p < 0.000). Anterior vertebral body was affected in 85.0% (284/333) of patients.


Osteophytes are common radiologic features in LBP. Anterior vertebral body is most affected. It is commoner in the older age group. Plain radiograph is an invaluable imaging tool in the management of LBP in this part of the world.

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