Several radiological parameters related to the aging spine have been reported as progression factors of early degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS). However, it has not been determined which factors are the most important. In this study the authors aimed to determine the risk factors associated with curve progression in early DLS.
Fifty-one patients with early DLS and Cobb angles of 5°–15° were investigated. In total, 7 men and 44 women (mean age 61.6 years) were observed for a mean period of 13.7 years. The subjects were divided into two groups according to Cobb angle progression (≥ 15° or < 15°) at the final follow-up, and radiological parameters were compared. The direction of scoliosis, apical vertebral level and rotational grade, lateral subluxation, disc space difference, osteophyte difference, upper and lower disc wedging angles, and relationship between the intercrest line and L5 vertebra were evaluated.
During the follow-up period, the mean curve progression increased from 8.8° ± 3.2° to 19.4° ± 8.9°. The Cobb angle had progressed by ≥ 15° in 17 patients (33.3%) at the final follow-up. In these patients the mean Cobb angle increased from 9.4° ± 3.4° to 28.8° ± 7.5°, and in the 34 remaining patients it increased from 8.5° ± 3.1° to 14.7° ± 4.8°. The baseline lateral subluxation, disc space difference, and upper and lower disc wedging angles significantly differed between the groups. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, only the upper and lower disc wedging angles were significantly correlated with curve progression (OR 1.55, p = 0.035, and OR 1.89, p = 0.004, respectively).
Asymmetrical degenerative change in the lower apical vertebral disc, which leads to upper and lower disc wedging angles, is the most substantial factor in predicting early DLS progression.