The distribution of end-plate lesions (Schmorl's nodes) and their relationship to bone density and disc degeneration have been studied in 50 post-mortem spines below D9 in subjects aged 13-96 years. Lesions were present in 76% of cases with a predominance in males. They were found more frequently in the lower than in the upper vertebral end-plate. They were also more common and more severe in the dorsolumbar (D10-L1) region than in the lower lumbar (L2-L5 region). In adults they were unrelated to age and bone density. Lesions were significantly related to disc degeneration in the D10-L1 region but not in the L2-L5 region. It is suggested that end-plate lesions arising in adolescence (or before) may predispose the dorsolumbar spine to disc degeneration in later life.
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