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October 7, 1961

Lumbar Discography: Analysis of 600 Degenerated Disks and Diagnosis of Degenerative Disk Disease

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Neurological Surgery, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation and The Frank E. Bunts Educational Institute. Dr. Collis is a former Fellow in the Department of Neurological Surgery, currently he is serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

JAMA. 1961;178(1):67-70. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.73040400020017b

LOW BACK pain, with or without leg pain, is a frequent complaint. Even after extensive investigation, including x-rays, blood tests, spinal fluid examination, and Pantopaque myelography, often the cause is not found. Terms such as "lumbago," "sciatica," "fibrositis," or "mechanical back" often are substituted for an actual diagnosis. Another specific cause of back and leg pain may now be determined. By employing lumbar discography the presence of disk degeneration can be proved, and, in some cases, established as the cause of the pain.

In a series of 1,014 consecutive cases of discography,1 degenerative disk disease frequently was implicated as the cause of pain. Patients with degenerated, with protruded, and with normal disks form the basis for this study.

Analysis of Patients  There were 123 patients with degeneration of both the L 4 and L-5 disks. There were 482 patients (including the 123) with degeneration of at least one disk