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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fractured Vertebrae in the Low Back (Lumbar Compression Fracture) shown and explained with Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images

Fractures of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) due to Bone Thinning (Osteoporosis) are a common occurrence, especially in elderly patients. These types of fractures can result from relatively minor events such as a sudden sneeze or cough, bending over, or minor falls.

Lets take a quick look at the normal Anatomy of the low back. The Image below shows a blow-up of a section of our Low Back. The whole body Color MRI on the left helps to orient us to where the blow-up originates. The Vertebrae (orange-brown) are shown separated by the Spinal Discs (green). The square shape part of the Vertebra is called the "Vertebral Body". It is the largest part of a Vertebra and is located in the front of the Spine. It is this Vertebral Body which is prone to fracture in a Compression Fracture. Behind the Body of the Vertebra you can see the Spinal Fluid (blue) which bathes the Spinal Cord and Spinal Nerves (yellow).

Lumbar Spine Color MRI showing the Normal Anatomy
Color MRI Image of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) showing the Normal Anatomy
The Color MRI Image below shows a Compression Fracture in red. Notice how the top of the Body of the Vertebra has collapsed.

Lumbar Compression Fracture shown on a Color MRI
Color MRI of a Lumbar (Low Back) Compression Fracture (red)
The next Color MRI Image offers a side-by-side comparison of a Normal and a Fractured Vertebra.
Sagittal Lumbar Color MRI, Normal Spine and Compression Fracture
Color MRI of a Normal Low Back and a Low Back Compression Fracture
The Image below is a Color X-Ray of a Compression Fracture. This particular Fracture involves the top and the front of the Vertebra. Instead of having a semi-square shape, this Vertebra is
"pie-shaped". This type of compression fracture can change the Spinal Curvature, causing a more stooped appearance.
Lateral Lumbar Spine Color X-Ray of a Compression Fracture
Color X-Ray of a Low Back (Lumbar) Compression Fracture
The last Color MRI Image below shows one type of treatment for Compression Fractures, called a Kyphoplasty. A powerful balloon (green) is placed through a small metal straw (blue) into the fractured Vertebra. Once properly positioned, the balloon is inflated. This can help in some cases to restore the original semi-square shape of the Fractured Vertebra.
Lumbar color MRI Image of a Kyphoplasty Procedure
Color MRI of the Lumbar Spine (Low Back) showing a Kyphoplasty Procedure
Color X-Ray and Color MRI Image like the ones shown in this Blog are available for licensing at
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