Prevalence of benign osseous lesions of the spine and association with spinal pain in the general population in whole body MRI

Richard Kasch*, Josephin Scheele, Mark Hancock, André Hofer, Christopher Maher, Robin Bülow, Jörn Lange, Andreas Lahm, Matthias Napp, Georgi Wassilew, Carsten Oliver Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Benign osseous lesions of the spine are common but precise population prevalence estimates are lacking. Our study aimed to provide the first population-based prevalence estimates and examine association with back and neck pain. Materials and methods: We used data from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP). Whole-body MRI examinations (1.5 Tesla: T1, T2, and TIRM weightings) were available from 3,259 participants. Readings of the spinal MRI images were conducted according to a standardized protocol by a single reader (JS). The intra-rater reliability was greater than Kappa values of 0.98. Pain measures included the seven-day prevalence of spine pain and neck pain, and average spine pain intensity due to spine pain during the past three months. Results: We found 1,200 (36.8%) participants with at least one osseous lesion (2,080 lesions in total). Osseous lesions were less common in men than in women (35.5% vs 38.9%; P = .06). The prevalence of osseous lesions was highest at L2 in both sexes. The prevalence of osseous lesions increased with age. Up to eight osseous lesions were observed in a single subject. Hemangioma (28%), and lipoma (13%) occurred most often. Sclerosis (1.7%), aneurysmal bone cysts (0.7%), and blastoma (0.3%) were rare. Different osseous lesions occurred more often in combination with each other. The association with back or neck pain was mostly negligible. Conclusion: Osseous lesions are common in the general population but of no clinical relevance for spinal pain. The prevalence of osseous lesions varied strongly across different regions of the spine and was also associated with age and gender. Our population-based data offer new insights and assist in judging the relevance of osseous lesions observed on MRIs of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0219846
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence of benign osseous lesions of the spine and association with spinal pain in the general population in whole body MRI'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this