Narrowing of the intervertebral disc space with sclerosis of the adjacent vertebral bodies may occur as a consequence of infection, neoplasia, trauma, or rheumatic disease. Some patients have been described with backache and these radiological appearances without any primary cause being apparent. The lesions were almost always of 1 or, at most, 2 vertebrae and most frequently involved the inferior margin of L4. We describe 3 patients with far more extensive vertebral involvement and present the clinical, radiological, scintiscan, and histological findings. The only patient we have seen with the better known, isolated L4/5 lesion was shown on biopsy to have staphylococcal osteomyelitis. For this reason we would still recommend a biopsy of all such sclerotic vertebral lesions if they occur in the absence of other rheumatic disease.
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