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Tetsuo Hayashi, Michael D. Daubs, Akinobu Suzuki, Trevor P. Scott, Kevin H. Phan, Monchai Ruangchainikom, Shinji Takahashi, Keiichiro Shiba and Jeffrey C. Wang


Most studies of Modic changes (MCs) have focused on investigating the relationship between MCs and lowback pain, whereas the kinematic characteristics and degenerative disc disease associated with MCs are not well understood. To the authors' knowledge, no previous study has reported on the kinematics of MCs. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationship of MCs to segmental motion and degenerative disc disease.


Four hundred fifty symptomatic patients underwent weight-bearing lumbar kinematic MRI in the neutral, flexion, and extension positions. Segmental displacement and intervertebral angles were measured in 3 positions using computer analysis software. Modic changes, disc degeneration, disc bulging, spondylolisthesis, angular motion, and translational motion were recorded, and the relationship of MCs to these factors was analyzed using a logistic regression model. To control the influence of disc degeneration on segmental motion, angular and translational motion were analyzed according to mild and severe disc degeneration stages. The motion characteristics and disc degeneration among types of MCs were also evaluated.


Multivariate analysis revealed that age, disc degeneration, angular motion, and translational motion were factors significantly related to MCs. In the severe disc degeneration stage, a significant decrease of angular motion and significant increase of translational motion were found in segments with MCs, indicating that a disorder of the endplate had an additional effect on segmental motion. Disc degeneration increased and angular motion decreased significantly and gradually as the type of MC increased. Translational motion was significantly increased with Type 2 MCs.


Age, disc degeneration, angular motion, and translational motion were significantly linked to MCs in the lumbar spine. The translational motion of lumbar segments increased with Type 2 MCs, whereas angular motion decreased as the type of MC increased, indicating that Type 2 MCs may have translational instability likely due to degenerative changes. A disorder of the endplates could play an important role in spinal instability.