MSK ultrasound of the lumbar facet joints
Facet joints degenerative diseases include osteophyte formation, rough bone surface, narrow joint space and hypertrophy of the articular process. MSK ultrasound is used a lot for assessing extremities. Can it also assess the facet joints of the lumbar spine? The summarized article determined the feasibility and accuracy of a MSK ultrasound approach to assess facet joints of the lumbar spine in a healthy population.
The lumbar facet joints are formed by the articulation of the inferior and the superior articular processes, which are smooth hyper-echoic. The hyperechogenicity indicates the osteochondral junction. And the space between the articular facets was clear hypoechoic because of the articular cartilage covering the joint surface. Thus, the width of the facet joint indicated the thickness of the cartilage of the joint. Similarly, the height of the articular cartilage indicated the height of the facet joint. The authors used the two parameters to describe and evaluate the condition and degenerative status of facet joint.
Age and body mass index were the independent factors modulating the width and height of facet joints. The described MSK ultrasound approach to the facet joints of the lumbar spine proved to be feasible and accurate.
> From: Liu et al., Ultrasound in Med. & Biol. (2015) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology.. Click here for the Pubmed summary.