Extraspinal findings on routine lumbar spinal MR imaging: Prevalence and etiologies in 4012 patients

Keywords: Low back pain, sciatalgia, magnetic resonance imaging, extraspinal pathologies, incidental findings


Aim: To investigate the prevalence and reporting rates of incidental findings (IF) in the routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine, and to emphasize their clinical importance.

Methods: A total of 4012 lumbar MRI taken between January 2014 and December 2016 were reevaluated. The low back pain and sciatalgia those suspected for lumbar spinal pathology were chosen for this study.  Extra-spinal abnormalities were classified according to a modified CT Colonography Reporting and Data System (C-RADS) and analyzed.

Results The mean age of patients was 49, 83 (range 17-87) years. Of the cases, 2472 were women and 1540 were men. In 3834 cases, disk pathology was observed. In 1282 cases extraspinal pathology was detected. The largest group in the study consisted of C-RADS E2 with 1048 patients (82.5%). There were 195 patients (28.3%) in the C-RADS E3 group and 23 (1.8%) patients in the C-RADS E4 group, potentially important.

Conclusion: Our results show that random extra-spinal abnormalities in the lumbar spine MRI, are very common and systematic evaluation and proper reporting of MRI are crucial.