Lumbar disk protrusion rates of symptomatic patients using magnetic resonance imaging

John W. Gilbert, J. Chad Martin, Greg R. Wheeler, Benjamin B. Storey, Gregory E. Mick, Gay B. Richardson, Stephanie L. Herder, Kwadwo Gyarteng-Dakwa, Patricia G. Broughton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the rate of disk protrusions detected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients symptomatic for spine pain, radiculopathy, or other spine-related pain. Methods: A retrospective review of 1983 MRI scans was performed over a 2-year period on 1486 patients, each of whom was symptomatic for spine pain, radiculopathy, or other noncancer, spine-related pain. Of these patients, 761 were scanned in the recumbent position using low-field (0.3 T, Airis II, Hitachi, Twinsburg, Ohio) MRI, and 725 were scanned in an upright, sitting position using mid-field (0.6 T) open Upright MRI (Fonar, Melville, NY). In total, 986 serial scans were performed on patients in the recumbent position and 997 serial scans on patients in the weight-bearing position. Results: One or more disk protrusions were identified in 73.3% of scans performed in the sitting position and in 50.1% of scans performed in the recumbent position. Most disk protrusions occurred at L5-S1 (52.3% and 29.8%), L4-L5 (42.6% and 26.7%), and L3-L4 (26.7% and 13.1%) in upright and recumbent positions, respectively. Conclusions: The disk protrusion rate in this group of patients ranged between 50.1% (recumbent) and 73.3% (weight-bearing). These rates are higher than rates reported in the medical literature for asymptomatic patients, a finding that supports the decision to further evaluate patients with persistent spine-related pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-629
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Intervertebral Disk Displacement
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chiropractic


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