The relationship of facet tropism to degenerative disc disease

Heikki Vanharanta, Timothy Floyd, Donna D. Ohnmeiss, Stephen H. Hochschuler, Richard D. Guyer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    85 Scopus citations


    The role of facet tropism (asymmetry) in the pathogenesis of degenerative disc disease is unknown, and several confliting reports have been published. We studied this association using CT/discography performed at 324 lumbar levais (108 patients). The stage of disc degeneration as well as the patient's pain response upon discographie injection were scored using a standardized protocol, The facet angles were measured directly from the axial CT/discographic images and defined, in each case, as the angle formed by the facet orientation with respect to the midsagittal plane. The facet tropism angle was defined as the difference between the left and right facet angles at each disc level, The mean and standard deviation (SD) of the tropism angles were calculated, From this calculation, each pair of facet joints was classified as symmetric (within 1 SD of the mean), moderately asymmetric (between 1 and 2 SD), or severely asymmetric (beyond 2 SD of the mean), There wEre nOt differences in degree of disc dageneration or pain response with respect to the facet tropism, The total facet angle was also studied. The total facet angle was greater at the more caudal levels. The total angle site was not associated, however, with disc degeneration or pain provocation. These findings do not support the hypothesis that there is an association between facet tropism and degenerative lumbar disc disease.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1000-1005
    Number of pages6
    Issue number8
    StatePublished - Jun 1993


    • Asymmetry
    • CT/discography
    • Degenerative disease
    • Facet tropism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Clinical Neurology


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