header advert
Results 1 - 5 of 5
Results per page:
The Bone & Joint Journal
Vol. 95-B, Issue 8 | Pages 1127 - 1133
1 Aug 2013
Lama P Le Maitre CL Dolan P Tarlton JF Harding IJ Adams MA

The belief that an intervertebral disc must degenerate before it can herniate has clinical and medicolegal significance, but lacks scientific validity. We hypothesised that tissue changes in herniated discs differ from those in discs that degenerate without herniation. Tissues were obtained at surgery from 21 herniated discs and 11 non-herniated discs of similar degeneration as assessed by the Pfirrmann grade. Thin sections were graded histologically, and certain features were quantified using immunofluorescence combined with confocal microscopy and image analysis. Herniated and degenerated tissues were compared separately for each tissue type: nucleus, inner annulus and outer annulus.

Herniated tissues showed significantly greater proteoglycan loss (outer annulus), neovascularisation (annulus), innervation (annulus), cellularity/inflammation (annulus) and expression of matrix-degrading enzymes (inner annulus) than degenerated discs. No significant differences were seen in the nucleus tissue from herniated and degenerated discs. Degenerative changes start in the nucleus, so it seems unlikely that advanced degeneration caused herniation in 21 of these 32 discs. On the contrary, specific changes in the annulus can be interpreted as the consequences of herniation, when disruption allows local swelling, proteoglycan loss, and the ingrowth of blood vessels, nerves and inflammatory cells.

In conclusion, it should not be assumed that degenerative changes always precede disc herniation.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:1127–33.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 78-B, Issue 6 | Pages 965 - 972
1 Nov 1996
Adams MA McNally DS Dolan P

We investigated the distribution of compressive ‘stress’ within cadaver intervertebral discs, using a pressure transducer mounted in a 1.3 mm diameter needle. The needle was pulled along the midsagittal diameter of a lumbar disc with the face of the transducer either vertical or horizontal while the disc was subjected to a constant compressive force. The resulting ‘stress profiles’ were analysed in order to characterise the distribution of vertical and horizontal compressive stress within each disc. A total of 87 discs from subjects aged between 16 and 87 years was examined.

Our results showed that age-related degenerative changes reduced the diameter of the central hydrostatic region of each disc (the ‘functional nucleus’) by approximately 50%, and the pressure within this region fell by 30%. The width of the functional annulus increased by 80% and the height of compressive ‘stress peaks’ within it by 160%. The effects of age and degeneration were greater at L4/L5 than at L2/L3, and the posterior annulus was affected more than the anterior. Age and degeneration were themselves closely related, but the stage of degeneration had the greater effect on stress distributions.

We suggest that structural changes within the annulus and endplate lead to a transfer of load from the nucleus to the posterior annulus. High ‘stress’ concentrations within the annulus may cause pain, and lead to further disruption.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 72-B, Issue 2 | Pages 266 - 270
1 Mar 1990
Adams M Dolan P Hutton W Porter R

Diurnal changes in the loads acting on the spine affect the water content and height of the intervertebral discs. We have reviewed the effects of these changes on spinal mechanics, and their possible clinical significance. Cadaveric lumbar spines subjected to periods of creep loading show a disc height change similar to the physiological change. As a result intervertebral discs bulge more, become stiffer in compression and more flexible in bending. Disc tissue becomes more elastic as its water content falls, and its affinity for water increases. Disc prolapse becomes more difficult. The neural arch and associated ligaments resist an increasing proportion of the compressive and bending stresses acting on the spine. Observations on living people show that these changes are not fully compensated for by modified muscle activity. We conclude that different spinal structures are more heavily loaded at different times of the day. Therefore, the time of onset of symptoms and signs, and any diurnal variation in their severity, may help us understand more about the pathophysiology of low back pain and sciatica.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 69-B, Issue 3 | Pages 422 - 428
1 May 1987
Dolan P Adams M Hutton W

Cadaveric lumbar discs were injected with chymopapain and subjected to a series of mechanical tests over a period of up to 19 hours. Discs from the same spine injected with saline were used as controls. The results showed that chymopapain had no measurable effect on the mechanical properties of the disc apart from the increased height and stiffening caused by fluid injection. Another series of tests on isolated pieces of disc material showed that chymopapain could reduce the size of prolapsed nuclear material by 24% in one hour and by 80% in 48 hours. It is concluded that, in the short-term, chymopapain has a negligible effect on the mechanics of a disc but it can reduce the size of any prolapsed nuclear material with which it comes in contact.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 68-B, Issue 1 | Pages 36 - 41
1 Jan 1986
Adams M Dolan P Hutton W

One hundred and thirty-nine discs from cadaveric lumbar spines were injected with a mixture of radio-opaque fluid and dye. Discograms were taken and the discs were then sectioned in the sagittal plane. Examination of the sections revealed that injected fluid did not at first mix with the disc matrix but pushed it aside to form pools of injected fluid. The location of these pools, and hence the appearance of a discogram, depended on the stage of degeneration of the disc. It is concluded that useful clinical information can be obtained from discograms.