OBJECTIVE: To study the pattern and changes of lumbar
intervertebral foraminal heights in an asymptomatic Jordanian
sample relative to age, sex, level, and correlate values with
midpoint vertebral and disc heights.
METHODS: One hundred and fifty-three patients (87 male
and 66 female) were selected during the study period. The study
was carried out at the Jordan University Hospital, Amman, Jordan
from June 1999 to June 2000. Parasagittal magnetic resonance
images were used to measure intervertebral foraminal heights at
all lumbar levels. Values were statistically analyzed and the
significance of differences in the means of foraminal heights at
different levels in every age group and among age groups was
determined. Foraminal height indices and correlation
coefficients with midpoint vertebral and disc heights were
RESULTS: The study revealed that the mean foraminal
height measured is 20.9 mm 1.7 with a range of 17.1-24 mm.
Foraminal heights increased significantly in a craniocaudal
pattern reaching a maximum at lumber (L)2/3 in females and at
L3/4 in males followed by continuous significant decrease
reaching their minimum at L5/sacral (S) 1. In relation to age,
foraminal heights decreased significantly in females reaching
their minimum in the 7th decade. In males, foraminal heights at
L3/4 until L5/S1 increased significantly reaching their maximum
in the 5th decade followed by significant decrease reaching
their minimum in the 7th decade. Foraminal height indices
remained relatively constant. A fair degree of correlation of
foraminal heights with intervertebral disc heights and vertebral
body heights was evident.
CONCLUSION: Foraminal heights show different level and
age-dependent characteristic pattern of change between
asymptomatic males and females. Changes of foraminal heights
seem to directly reflect changes of vertebral body heights.
These changes are considered normal age-dependent changes, and
are discussed under consideration of adaptation to physical
activity and changing hormonal levels.
Department of Anatomy and Histology, Faculty of Medicine,
University of Jordan, Amman 11942, Jordan. firstname.lastname@example.org