Variables associated with active spondylolysis

Chris D Gregg, Sarah Dean, Anthony G Schneiders
Physical Therapy in Sport 2009, 10 (4): 121-4

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective non-experimental study.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate variables associated with active spondylolysis.

DESIGN: A retrospective study audited clinical data over a two year period from patients with suspected spondylolysis that were referred for a SPECT bone scan. Six exploratory variables were identified and analysed using uni- and multi-variate regression from 82 patient records to determine the association between symptomatic, physical and demographic characteristics, and the presence of an active spondylolysis.

SETTING: Tertiary level multidisciplinary private practice sports medicine clinic.

PARTICIPANTS: All patients with low back pain that required a SPECT bone scan to confirm suspected spondylolysis. 82 subjects were included in the final sample group.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: The six exploratory variables included Age, Gender, Injury duration, Injury onset, Sports participation and the result of the Single Leg Hyperextension Test. The dependent outcome variable was the result of the SPECT bone scan (scan-positive or scan-negative).

RESULTS: Adolescent males had a higher incidence of spondylolysis detected by SPECT bone scan compared to other patients and a statistically significant association was demonstrated for both age (p=0.01) and gender (p=0.01). Subjects with an active spondylolysis were nearly five times more likely to be male and aged less than 20 years. Furthermore, the likelihood ratio indicated that adolescent males with suspected spondylolysis were three and a half times more likely to have a positive bone scan result. The Single Leg Hyperextension Test did not demonstrate a statistically significant association with spondylolysis (p=0.47).

CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians assessing for a predisposition to the development of spondylolysis should consider the gender and age of the patient and not rely on the predictive ability of the Single Leg Hyperextension Test.

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