Intervertebral instability of the lumbar spine is thought to be a possible pathomechanical mechanism underlying low back pain and sciatica and is often an important factor in determining surgical indication for spinal fusion and decompression. Instability of the lumbar spine, however, remains a controversial and poorly understood topic. At present, much controversy exists regarding the proper definition of the condition, the best diagnostic methods, and the most efficacious treatment approaches. Clinical presentation is not specific, and the relationship between radiologic evidence of instability and its symptoms is controversial. Because of its simplicity, low expense, and pervasive availability, functional flexion-extension radiography is the most thoroughly studied and the most widely used method in the imaging diagnosis of lumbar intervertebral instability. In this article, we provide an overview of the current concepts of vertebral instability, focusing on degenerative lumbar intervertebral instability, and review the different imaging modalities most indicated in diagnosing vertebral instability.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology