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Modic changes in the cervical spine

Prospective 10-year follow-up study in asymptomatic subjects

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We conducted a prospective follow-up MRI study of originally asymptomatic healthy subjects to clarify the development of Modic changes in the cervical spine over a ten-year period and to identify related factors. Previously, 497 asymptomatic healthy volunteers with no history of cervical trauma or surgery underwent MRI. Of these, 223 underwent a second MRI at a mean follow-up of 11.6 years (10 to 12.7). These 223 subjects comprised 133 men and 100 women with a mean age at second MRI of 50.5 years (23 to 83). Modic changes were classified as not present and types 1 to 3. Changes in Modic types over time and relationships between Modic changes and progression of degeneration of the disc or clinical symptoms were evaluated. A total of 31 subjects (13.9%) showed Modic changes at follow-up: type 1 in nine, type 2 in 18, type 3 in two, and types 1 and 2 in two. Modic changes at follow-up were significantly associated with numbness or pain in the arm, but not with neck pain or shoulder stiffness. Age (≥ 40 years), gender (male), and pre-existing disc degeneration were significantly associated with newly developed Modic changes.

In the cervical spine over a ten-year period, type 2 Modic changes developed most frequently. Newly developed Modic changes were significantly associated with age, gender, and pre-existing disc degeneration.

Correspondence should be sent to Dr M. Matsumoto; e-mail:

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