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For Release: October 1, 2008


Facet Joint Effusion and Interspinal Ligament Edema: Major Sources of Lower Back Pain

New MR techniques show that facet joint effusion (the collection of fluid in the spinal joints) and interspinal ligament edema (swelling of the interspinal ligaments) are major sources of lower back pain, according to a study performed at Baskent University Hospital in Ankara, Turkey and Alanya Research Center in Antalya, Turkey.

During the study 372 patients with lower back pain and 249 healthy patients underwent MRI accompanied by STIR (short inversion time inversion recovery) sequences. “The most common imaging findings in patients with lower back pain were soft tissue changes, mainly facet joint effusion, 85.5%, and interspinal ligament swelling, 80.6%,” according to Nefise Cagla Tarhan, MD, lead author of the study.

“Soft tissue changes are important in the understanding of lower back pain and prevention and treatment options should focus more on these changes. A lot of patients (mostly younger) come to me with complaints of bad, lower back pain; it is a very common community problem,” said Dr. Tarhan. “With this new MR technique, prevention and treatment options for lower back pain can focus more on soft tissue degenerative changes that cause facet joint effusion and interspinal ligament swelling,” said Dr. Tarhan.

This study appears in the October issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology. For a copy of the full study, please contact Heather Curry via email at hcurry@arrs.org.

Click here for the abstract

About ARRS

The American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) was founded in 1900 and is the oldest radiology society in the United States. Its monthly journal, the American Journal of Roentgenology, began publication in 1906. Radiologists from all over the world attend the ARRS annual meeting to participate in instructional courses, scientific paper presentations and scientific and commercial exhibits related to the field of radiology. The Society is named after the first Nobel Laureate in Physics, Wilhelm Röentgen, who discovered the x-ray in 1895.


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