University Of Tasmania
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Modic changes in the lumbar spine and their association with body composition, fat distribution and intervertebral disc height - a 3.0 T-MRI study

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posted on 2023-05-18, 18:20 authored by Teichtahl, AJ, Urquhart, DM, Wang, Y, Wluka, AE, O'Sullivan, R, Graeme JonesGraeme Jones, Cicuttini, FM
BACKGROUND: Vertebral endplate (Modic) abnormalities are important structural lesions in the spine, but their association with body composition and fat distribution have not been examined. Moreover, no study has examined whether Modic change are related to other structural features of low back pain, such as reduced intervertebral disc height.

METHODS: Seventy-two community-based individuals not selected for low back pain had lumbar vertebral Modic change and intervertebral disc height assessed from MRI. Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry measured body composition and fat distribution.

RESULTS: The predominance of Modic change was type 2. Modic change was associated with an increased fat mass index (OR 1.20, 95 % CI 1.01 to 1.43), and tended to be associated with a reduced fat-free mass index (OR 0.62, 95 % CI 0.37 to 1.03, p = 0.07). While an increased percentage of gynoid fat was associated with a reduced risk (OR 0.62, 95 % CI 0.43 to 0.89), an increased percentage of android fat was associated with an increased risk of Modic change (OR 2.11, 95 % CI 1.18 to 3.76). Modic change was also associated with reduced intervertebral disc height at L2/3, L4/5 and L5/S1 (OR range 1.4 to 1.8; all p ≤ 0.03).

CONCLUSION: Modic type 2 change is associated with reduced intervertebral disc height and an increased fat mass index. Whereas gynoid fat distribution protected against Modic type 2 change, an android pattern increased the risk of this lesion. Modic type 2 change, which histologically represent fat replacement, might have a metabolic component to its aetiology.


Publication title

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders



Article number









Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Biomed Central Ltd

Place of publication

Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, England, W1T 4Lb

Rights statement

© 2016 Teichtahl et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified