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Isthmic spondylolysis of the lumbar spine: MR imaging at 1.5 T.

Radiology 1989 Februrary
The appearance on magnetic resonance (MR) images of the normal pars interarticularis in 13 patients was reviewed and contrasted with that of the pars in eight patients with spondylolysis. The pars defect usually had an intermediate signal intensity with all pulse sequences; however, this intensity was somewhat variable depending on the exact ratio of cartilage, fat, and fluid within each bone defect. The pars defect was best seen with spin-echo 600/20 (repetition time msec/echo time msec) images. In three cases, out-of-phase images showed the spondylolysis best, because of extension of fat to the borders of the defect. The sagittal view allowed one to separate spondylolysis from the joint space of posterior facets since the orientation of the defects is perpendicular to the facets; thus, a common pitfall encountered with cross-sectional axial imaging techniques is avoided. MR imaging poorly delineated bone fragments around the defect, which may produce nerve root impingement, but revealed other numerous complications that occur with spondylolysis, including spondylolisthesis and herniation of the disk above.

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