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Classifications of gross morphologic and magnetic resonance images of human intervertebral discs

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Title: Classifications of gross morphologic and magnetic resonance images of human intervertebral discs
Author: Thompson, J. Paul
Degree Master of Science - MSc
Program Cell and Development Biology
Copyright Date: 1987
Subject Keywords Intervertebral Disk; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy; Nuclear magnetic resonance; Intervertebral disk
Abstract: The pathogenesis of low back pain is complex but likely involves the intervertebral disc (Nachemson, 1976). Direct evidence for its importance is lacking because an accurate in vivo method of imaging the lumbar intervertebral disc has not been established. The objective of this research was to develop classifications of gross morphologic appearance and magnetic resonance image (MRI) of the disc that describe the changes associated with aging and degeneration, thereby permitting interpretation of the MRI in terms of gross morphology and allowing correlation of morphologic, chemical, mechanical, radiologic and epidemiologic data with a standard reference of disc aging and degeneration. The classifications were developed on the basis of literature review, detailed examination of 55 discs and expert advice. Two sets of three observers, one for the morphologic classification and one for the MRI classification evaluated 68 life size randomized duplicates of discs making detailed observations about overall category and 17 regional morphologic parameters and 11 regional MRI parameters. The data was tested to demonstrate the validity of the classifications using established criteria (Tugwell & Bombardier, 1982; Guyatt 4 Kirschner, 1985; Feinstein, 1985). The consistency with which the classifications could be applied was evaluated by calculating weighted kappa, a statistical test of agreement that corrects for agreement by chance; the ability of the classifications to distinguish stages in the process of ageing and degeneration by stepwise discriminant analysis; their conformity with other measures by comparisons within and between classifications and, comparisons with histologic and chemical data. The degree of agreement for all six intra-observer pairs was 'almost perfect' (weighted kappa > 0.80); for 5 interobserver pairs 'substantial' (weighted kappa > 0.60) and for one MRI interobserver pair 'moderate' (weighted kappa > 0.50). This represented a satisfactory level of agreement and indicated the classifications could be applied consistently (Feinstein, 1981). The linear regression model developed by stepwise discriminant analysis clearly demonstrated the ability of the classifications to distinguish distinct stages in disc aging and degeneration. Wilk's lambda, a likelihood ratio statistic reflecting discriminatory function, approached zero in both the morphologic (0.0408) and MRI (0.0H80) classifications. In both models, parameters pertaining to the nucleus pulposus of the disc accounted for the majority of the variance (morphologic partial R² 0.8598 and MRI partial R² 0.8811) suggesting nuclear parameters are the most important in distinguishing overall category. The correlation table generated by principal component analysis demonstrated that the categories assigned to regional parameters correlated significantly (p > 0.0001) with each other and with the overall category. From the linear combinations of parameters (principal components) generated the weighting of the nucleus pulposus behaved independently attesting to its importance. Comparisons of the morphologic and MRI classifications yielded high indices of trend (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.81) and concordance (kappa of 0.62). Trends in the histologic and chemical data were consistent with the classifications but could not be evaluated statistically because only 15 specimens were studied. This research suggests that the classifications are valid and will form a basis for the interpretation of MRI. Preliminary evidence suggested MRI is sensitive to early changes in extracellular matrix composition not apparent in gross morphology.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/26647
Series/Report no. UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/retro_theses/]
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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