How old is your cervical spine? Cervical spine biological age: a new evaluation scale

Venceslao Wierzbicki, Alessandro Pesce, Luigi Marrocco, Emanuele Piccione, Claudio Colonnese, Riccardo Caruso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This article aims at presenting a scale that, through the analysis of MRI images, clearly charts the various degenerative stages of the cervical spine and establishes its biological age. We have created this scale by summing together various scores linked to a selection of parameters according to which MRI images are analyzed. Method: We examined 423 cervical spine MRI scans, belonging to patients who had been admitted to the Medical Imaging Service of the Military Hospital of Rome between January 2010 and July 2011. We selected 6 parameters for the analysis of the MRI scans of the cervical spine: (1) the degeneration of the intervertebral discs, (2) the degeneration of the yellow ligaments, (3) the degeneration of the vertebral bodies, (4) the possible presence of spondylolistheses, (5) the presence or absence of foraminal stenosis, and (6) the diameter of the spinal canal. We assigned to each parameter a score system based on a graduated scale. The cervical spine physiological age can be determined by summing up the scores obtained for each parameter. Results: We submitted the data obtained from the study to a statistical enquiry. The results of the enquiry confirmed the suitability of the parameters selected for the evaluation of the aging process of the cervical spine. Conclusions: The effectiveness of the various treatments for cervical spine degenerative disorders is influenced by the overall anatomical conditions of the cervical spine. Up until now there has been no objective criterion for the evaluation of these anatomical conditions. We believe that this scale will be a useful tool to homogenize retrospective studies and to correctly set up prospective studies on the degenerative conditions of the cervical spine and relative treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2763-2770
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Biological aging
  • Cervical spine
  • Intervertebral disc
  • MRI
  • Myelopathy
  • Spinal disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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