The natural history of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis: 45-year follow-up evaluation

William J Beutler, Bruce E Fredrickson, Albert Murtland, Colleen A Sweeney, William D Grant, Daniel Baker
Spine 2003 May 15, 28 (10): 1027-35; discussion 1035

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective study of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis was initiated in 1955 with a radiographic and clinical study of 500 first-grade children.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the natural history of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Most studies on the natural history of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are based on patient populations presenting with pain. Critical to any natural history investigation is the study of a population of affected individuals, whether symptomatic or not, from onset of the condition through their lives.

METHODS: By study of a population from the age of 6 years to adulthood, 30 individuals were identified to have pars lesions. Data collection at a 45-year follow-up assessment included magnetic resonance imaging, a back pain questionnaire, and the SF-36 Survey.

RESULTS: No subject with a pars defect was lost to follow-up evaluation once a lesion was identified. Subjects with unilateral defects never experienced slippage over the course of the study. Progression of spondylolisthesis slowed with each decade. There was no association of slip progression and low back pain. There was no statistically significant difference between the study population SF-36 scores and those of the general population the same age.

CONCLUSIONS: This report is the only prospective study to document the natural history of spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis from onset through more than 45 years of life in a population unselected for pain. Subjects with pars defects follow a clinical course similar to that of the general population. There appears to be a marked slowing of slip progression with each decade, and no subject has reached a 40% slip.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"