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Skeletons Shed Light on Cervical Arthrosis Prevalence

Last Updated: August 31, 2009.

Cervical facet arthrosis appears more common with age and it may more often affect upper cervical levels, according to research on human skeletons published in the September issue of The Spine Journal.

MONDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Cervical facet arthrosis appears more common with age and it may more often affect upper cervical levels, according to research on human skeletons published in the September issue of The Spine Journal.

Michael J. Lee, M.D., of the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, and K. Daniel Riew, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, analyzed 465 skeletally mature cervical spines from a museum, inspecting each specimen bilaterally from C2-C3 through C6-C7 for bony changes suggesting facet arthrosis.

The researchers found that most cervical facet arthrosis was Grade 1 (peripheral osteophytic reaction, but no lateral mass distortion) at all levels. Upper cervical specimens appeared to have facet arthrosis more often than lower levels. For example, 12.37 percent of specimens had signs of arthrosis at C2-C3 compared to 4.84 percent at C6-C7. The C4-C5 level appeared to be affected most frequently, and, in those over the age of 70 years, prevalence of facet arthrosis reached nearly 30 percent at this level.

"The prevalence of cervical facet arthrosis increases with age, and occurs primarily in the upper cervical spine. Although cervical spine spondylosis is most commonly observed at C5-C6 and C6-C7, cervical facet arthrosis appears to be more common in the upper cervical spine at C3-C4 and C4-C5, and its prevalence increases with age," the authors conclude.

A co-author reported a financial relationship with Medtronic.

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