Study Design. Clinical findings of spinal stenosis were compared to graded radiologic findings of dural sac narrowing.
Objectives. To examine the changes of the dural sac area of the lumbar spine on computerized tomography (CT) performed without and with axial loading, and study the correlations between the radiologic findings and clinical symptoms suggestive of spinal stenosis.
Summary of Background Data. Although several studies have been performed regarding the advantage of an external compression device in lumbar CT, to our knowledge, none of these studies have correlated radiologic findings with clinical symptoms.
Methods. The cross-sectional areas of the dural sac at the 3 lowest lumbar intravenous spaces, measured by CT both without and with external compression, were correlated to the clinical symptoms suggestive of spinal stenosis in 117 patients and 351 intervertebral levels.
Results. No statistically significant correlation between the severity of the clinical symptoms of spinal stenosis and dural cross-sectional areas was found. Neither did the use of an external compression device improve the correlation.
Conclusion. Although an external compression simulates the dynamic condition in the back during standing position, it does not eliminate the need to compare the radiologic findings with the clinical symptoms of patients examined because of a suspected narrowing of the spinal canal.